Kayla Abernathy has been dreaming of becoming a cosmetologist since she began the cosmetology program at the Boone Career and Technical Center (BCTC) in Boone County, and on Friday, she was one of other girls who got to step foot in a real salon. 

Eighteen year-old Abernathy was one of 32 students from BCTC who attended The Resort at Glade Springs Friday for Apprentice Day, a day where students ages 14 to 18 get to experience the different careers associated with a hotel/resort. 

Abernathy, who sported a short haircut with a deep red color, talked about how she used to have long brown hair, and experimented with her instructors and other classmates from BCTC to get it to where it is now. 

"I really like it now, and I remember when I first went into the cosmetology program, I was unsure of what I wanted to do," she said. "I love hair, I love makeup, and I love being creative, and after spending time in it, I knew it was what I really want to do." 

This is Abernathy's second year in the program at BCTC, and when she heard about Apprentice Day at The Resort at Glade Springs, she knew she wanted to be a part of it. Getting to sit in at a real salon like Spa Orange at Glade Springs was a dream come true. 

"We learn so much in our class at Boone, but being able to get insight on what it's actually like working in a salon is just really cool," she said. "Not everyone has that opportunity, and getting to talk to these wonderful people in this salon just assures me even more that this is something I want to do." 

Apprentice Day is a practicum of Apprentice Network, Inc. (ANi), and it's held year round. Christina Entenmann, the program's executive director, explained it is 100 percent free for children who wish to participate, and provides work-readiness and employability education, experience, training and support for students. 

During Friday's Apprentice Day, students were able to shadow a number of employees at the Resort, including hospitality and general operations management with Jennifer Bowling, housekeeping, culinary with Executive Chef Jamie Henderson, pastry, sports and recreation, production design, spa and salon, retail and merchandising, social media, front office and office management, security, special events and catering, and golf course and grounds maintenance. 

"The great thing about the program is it shows kids what they like and what they don't like," Entenmann said. "We want them to go into something they're interested in, and something that will prepare them for their future, and this does that." 

Entenmann explained ANi works under a formula — Life Design + Career Strategies + Work Experience = Ready4Work. Beginning Saturday, under that formula, ANi is launching a Ready2Work Career Academy Pilot for children ages 11 to 14 in Lewisburg at The Hub Student Cafe. 

The children, who will be dubbed "Young Apprentices," will learn about different career and job opportunities available to them in West Virginia and all over the U.S. The children will learn how the jobs relate to them today, and their future, Entenmann said, while job shadowing at partner companies and learning money management skills. 

The Academy in Lewisburg will be held every other Saturday beginning this Saturday, until Saturday, May 16, and will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Students can pre-register or register the day of, and the cost is free. Although this Academy will be held in Lewisburg, Entenmann said the goal is to eventually have several academies hosted across the state at community and technical colleges. 

"This isn't just a one place academy," she explained. "The goal is to have them at several places so several students can be involved. We like the idea of having them at career and technical centers, so students can get the training they need to build skills and start working as soon as they can." 

Entenmann said the Academy is for students 11 to 14, however, if the student sticks with the academy, program coordinators will follow them up until they are 21 years-old and help them enter the workforce. She said the goal is to get each child working in something to build their skills by age 15. 

The Academy is set to be a hit, but under ANi, Apprentice Day will still continue throughout the year. West Virginia Senator Sue Cline, R-Wyoming, was present at Friday's Apprentice Day, and said she hopes she can be a part of helping it expand. 

"I want to help Christina and I want to work together to help host more academies along with more Apprentice Days," Cline said. "This is just such a great way to let kids know what's available to them, and help expand their skills. 

"We want our students in West Virginia to be able to stay here, raise their families here, and work here, but to do that we need more skilled workers, and I think programs like this are a great way to do that."

Cline said she wants to plan an Apprentice Day at the Capitol in Charleston during the upcoming legislative session, which begins in January. 

Several other Apprentice Days are scheduled for the near future, and students can sign up for them and also find out more information about the Academy by visiting AniWorkMatters.org, emailing info@aniworkmatters.org or calling Entenmann at 304-647-8253. 

"We just really want to help the kids," Entenmann said. "That's what it's all about." 

— Email: jnelson@register-herald.com; follow on Twitter @jnelsonRH

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