Trips to businesses more than just ‘talk’

Posted: November 16, 2012

The Winchester Star

Jeffrey Vaughan, manager of environmental health and safety at Thermo Fisher Scientific, conducts a tour of the Middletown facility for Sherando High School students Thursday morning. (Photo by Scott Mason/The Winchester Star)

WINCHESTER — Kelsie Hahn remembers touring Thermo Fisher Scientific as a senior at Sherando High School and thinking how awesome it would be to work in a lab.

Six years later, the 22-year-old is a lab technician for the company in Middletown.

Thermo Fisher, based in Waltham, Mass., provides laboratory equipment, chemicals, supplies and services for research, health care and science education.

Hahn became aware of the company after taking part in Career Awareness Student Tours, sponsored by the Winchester-Frederick County Economic Development Commission.

The tours encourage students to learn about local job opportunities, regardless of whether they plan to attend college.

“If I didn’t come on the tour, I wouldn’t have known there was a lab here,” she said. “It looked like a manufacturing facility from the outside. [The tours] got me back to where I want to be.”

On Thursday, about 35 James Wood and Sherando high school students checked out the facility, taking part in the 14th annual Career Awareness Student Tours — which were also held on Tuesday and Wednesday.

More than 470 students from Winchester and Frederick County middle and high schools toured 20 community businesses as part of the event.

Participating businesses included Reimers Electra Steam, Trex Company, Quad Graphics, Rubbermaid Commercial Products, and Annandale Millwork & Allied Systems.

On Thursday, students wore paper lab coats and safety glasses as they toured the 312,000-square-foot Thermo Fisher facility.

According to Thermo Fisher, the business was started in 1978 and currently has 263 employees in Middletown with plans to hire an additional 20 by March.

“This gives us a better understanding and knowing,” said Sherando junior Andrew Viera. “I never knew Thermo Fisher existed.”

Earlier in the day, the group of teens visited the pharmacy at Winchester Medical Center.

Sherando sophomore Timothy Coleman enjoyed the robot there, which filed medicines.

“I didn’t know it had all that informative stuff,” he said of the tour.

Sherando sophomore Nataly Claros got to see a placenta, colon and appendix — all in jars — while at the hospital.

“They’re just really cool,” she said. “It’s nice they showed us something besides just talking.”

— Contact Rebecca Layne at rlayne@winchesterstar.com