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Jeffcon teaches students tech opportunities

About 200 students attended the conference


Technology Trivia got about 200 Jefferson County high school students rowdy during lunch Jan. 31 at the first ever Jeffcon, technology conference held at the Jeffco schools building.

“I’ve seen kids faces lighting up, lots of smiles and they’re really excited,” said Shawn Rhoades, director of IT service desk and client support at Jeffco Schools.

Rhoades was one of 33 IT professionals and community partners presenting to students through breakout sessions at the all day conference. Her session focused on how IT support works in general and at Jeffco schools, and career paths in this field.

“We work in education for a reason,” Rhoades said. “To have this opportunity to work with all these students is fantastic.”

One student who was excited to learn more about IT was Zack Valencia, senior at Green Mountain High School. Valencia said he was hoping that attending Jeffcon we help him decide what are of expertise he would like to pursue as a career.

His classmate Gordon Pexton was in the same boat.

“I know I really like working with computers,” Pexton said. “But I don’t know what I want to go into. I’m hoping this will help me find out what I want to do.”

At the conference, each student attended four breakout sessions of their choice. Topics included cyber security, networking, voicebots, computer repair, enterprise device management, web design and development, firewalls and women in IT.

“We didn’t know what to expect,” said Brett Miller, chief information officer for Jeffco schools. “Students are staying engaged, they’re curious and asking questions and that’s a big positive.”

Another positive Miller said was that of the 200 students, 30 were girls.

“That’s promising to see,” he said. “ You don’t see a lot of girls in technology and science.”

For the first Jeffcon, all high schools in the district allowed 10 students to apply to attend the conference. After the initial application, some schools did not have anyone apply, so schools with additional interest were given more slots.

Leah Lindblom, technology coordinator at Arvada West High School, brought 17 students with her.

Her hope was that students find their passion and be introduced to new things.

“If we can find something that can change them today and help trigger something, ignite curiosity… who knows,” Lindblom said. “It’s been a super exciting day. The adults and students — having us all in the same room together has been really cool.”

Miller said moving forward Jeffcon will be an annual event to give students opportunity to find a career path that suites them.


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