Park Rapids High School Principal Jeff Johnson told the school board on Monday that a planned career mentoring program has been postponed.

Organized by community career collaboration coordinator (4C) Krystal Murphy, the program was scheduled to start Wednesday with a mentor training session, followed by a first mentor-mentee meeting on Jan. 15.

Instead, Johnson said, “we are postponing it for one month, in hopes that we can get the word out that we’re looking for mentors in some particular career areas.”

Mentoring sessions are currently scheduled in the high school commons from 2 to 3 p.m. the third Wednesday of each month for the remainder of the school year – Feb. 19, March 18 and April 15.

Based on students’ career interests, Murphy was looking for approximately 30 career mentors, but only 17 had committed, Johnson said. “Then we’re hoping to retain and rejuvenate it, and start it right away with the next school year.”

Murphy said the training piece will be done at the beginning of the February meeting. She emphasized that the meetings will be structured, with materials provided so “those mentors don’t have to worry about how to make this flow.”

Planned activities include critiquing resumes, preparing for job interviews and, at the April meeting, mock interviews.

“Everyone loves this idea,” Murphy told the Enterprise. “I know this school and this town have been really pushing for a mentor program. But it just needs bodies.”

She said the mentors who have come in have shown a “fantastic” willingness to help in a variety of areas.

“What we’re really trying to do,” she said, is “about getting (students) career-ready.”

This year’s mentorship program is designed to allow all 11th and 12th graders to ask questions and hear stories about how people in their desired career field got to where they are today – “building relationships, getting them ready for the workforce and graduation, so they’re walking across that stage confidently,” Murphy said.

Students’ questions could include, “What should I major and minor in?” and “Do I need to go to this or that type of school, or can I just get an apprenticeship?”

To begin, Murphy sought mentors to advise students about how to prepare for a future in about 20 different career clusters, including agriculture, business and finance, education, government and public administration, and information technology.

Mentors have signed up for all of these areas. However, additional mentors are still wanted for careers in architecture and construction, arts and entertainment, health science, hospitality and tourism, human services, law enforcement, manufacturing, marketing and sales, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), auto repair and mechanics, cosmetology, electrical careers and the military.

“I would love to have current or retired police officers, or even a detective. Also, I really need nurses and retired teachers,” said Murphy. “I have an engineering mentor, but I don’t have anyone for environmental sciences or anthropology.”

Murphy hinted that the mentoring program might lead, in the future, to job shadowing opportunities, field trips and bringing in guest speakers for presentations and class projects. She also wants to build a local apprenticeship or internship directory, so Park Rapids alumni can come back home for internships.

“We want to make this (program) grow as a way to build the community and show kids what Park Rapids has,” she said. “Showcase what we have here, because there’s a lot that maybe some just plain don’t know about.”