Career Day 2016, a biannual event for all Weston High School students sponsored by WEEFC, kicked off last Wednesday with an upbeat and inspirational keynote address by Johnny Cupcakes, aka, Johnny Earle. This was followed by a session of seven professional panels,over 80 speakers in individual sessions, and musical performances by students. Career Day is an integral part of the WHS School-to-Careers Program, which includes the Sophomore Career Seminar class and the Senior Internship class. The day gives students the opportunity to explore possible career paths, obtaining insight into the specific requirements, daily responsibilities, and extraordinary experiences associated with each career.
As the founder of a hugely successful t-shirt brand on Newbury Street and across the country, Johnny Cupcakes told the students “failing is part of learning.” He explained to the students how he tried dozens of start-ups before the big success of his company; he was shoveling driveways at the age of 6, selling sodas on the beach, and performing magic tricks at the age of 8. Johnny went on to to try dozens of business ideas, from designing buttons to selling whoopee cushions and fleece scarves. He then worked at Newbury Comics where he became interested in t-shirt design, which he started out of his parents’ attic. Johnny Cupcakes’ brand and signature logo, the cupcake over two crossbones, grew from one of his nicknames. He developed an online store and learned the importance of packaging, which became part of his promotion with whimsical pastry boxes. He then moved into retail space on Newbury Street and expanded to other prime locations across the country; he collaborates with other companies to make limited edition t-shirts. As Johnny said, “My concept is strange, but strange is good.”
Johnny emphasized to the students how he always saved his money and never drank alcohol or tried drugs. He put his earnings back into his business and said, “think of all the money and time I have saved by not drinking beer.” As a student, he had learning issues, but his family supported his business sense and always encouraged him. He saids he “finds ways every day to involve humor.” He encouraged the students to do the same. And he ended his speech by highlighting the importance of “doing what you love with the people you love.”
Junior Bella DiPietro said she heard how “It’s not as important where you go to college, but how hard you work at your job afterwards .” Career Day Co-Chairs, Corey Guerra and Anne Peacher heard his message resonated with students. “Johnny had students following him around all morning. He has a great way of sharing business, career and life advice that students understand.” After the keynote address, students attended panels consisting of experts in multiple fields. The panels were a new addition to Career Day this year and students chose areas they wanted to explore. These panels ranged from business to medicine, nonprofits, media, sports, law and young Weston High School alumni careers. The moderators included Superintendent John Brackett, High School Principal Anthony Parker, Faculty members Mary Liu, Peter Banker, Jim McLaughlin, Gretchen Gugliotta and Weston resident Steve Peacher. Parker said, “The panelists started the discussion of issues then the students quickly chimed in with their thoughts and questions.”
More than 80 individual speakers from a wide-ranging number of professions ran sessions with students from all four grades over four 35-minute session blocks. Several Weston High School alums participated in the program including CJ Valle, a robotics engineer who described the company where he works and his job designing robots that can help people, as well as Allison Charlip, a small animal veterinarian, who told students how her WHS Senior Internship fostered her interest in her career. During lunch blocks, students were entertained by fellow student musicians, including: Simon Bass, Ben Icke, Clara Ward, Will Haines, Ryan Doorandish, Michael Brown, Elizabeth Cuzzupoli and Will Friend. The day was filmed by the Weston Media Center under the direction of Gloria Cole, with producer Margaret Randle and video photographer Nathan Suhur conducting interviews. Weston parent and photographer Victoria Rakov took photos of the event.
Career Day would not be possible without the support of WEEFC. WEEFC’s ability to raise funds makes it possible to create opportunities for students to explore future career possibilities. Many thanks to the Career Day Committee for all the work that generated its huge success: Co-Chairs: Corey Guerra & Anne Peacher, Mary Fierabend, Alyssa DeSandre, Leah Gordon, Sheila Burkus, Shannon Burrow, Laura Efron, Marion Packs, & Amy Riedel. The PTO supported the day with an army of volunteers who set up, checked in, escorted, baked, and kept the day running smoothly, led by High School PTO Chairs Barbara Critchlow & Nancy Trodden. Mike Lambias and Tom Wilhelm in Technology at the high school coordinated the numerous audiovisual needs for the day, including a giant screen for Johnny Cupcakes’ presentation.