Over 500 Spring Grove students visited the 70+ business expo Wednesday.

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More than 500 students packed the Spring Grove Area High School gymnasium Wednesday for the school’s annual Business Expo.

The expo featured more than 70 businesses, including local and national businesses, nonprofit organizations and post-secondary schools. The event was split into two parts: one in the morning strictly for upperclassmen at the school and a later expo that was open to the public.

Spring Grove juniors and seniors were excused from regular classes for part of the day to participate in the event, which looks to inform students of the kinds of businesses in the county and serve as a way for companies to market themselves to future customers and possible employees.

‘Investment’: “There are some (businesses) here that obviously can’t hire people without a college education,” said Lisa Smith, community relations coordinator for the school district.

She said instead of fielding candidates for jobs, many of the vendors were interviewing to gauge students' interest to study in the company’s field and possibly to employ them in the long run.

“They’re putting some investment, knowing the student wouldn’t be able to join them for a couple of years,” Smith said.

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Before the start of the student portion of the expo, which ran from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., students were grouped together and prepped for an hour by nine local business leaders on how to “navigate a business expo,” according to David Detrich, assistant principal at Spring Grove Area High School.

The entrepreneurs told students things that they look for in a good prospect, what kind of information they should and shouldn’t give out and what to say during the proverbial “30-second elevator speech.”

“In that brief interaction, you want to have that lasting impact,” Detrich said.

“When they graduate, they have that experience of having those interactions,” Detrich said.

Interactions: Jacob Inscore, a junior at the school, said he thought the experience was helpful in getting ready for the workforce.

“I liked the networking and being able to meet new people,” he said, adding that he appreciated the feedback given by employers during the interaction.

Dr. Jeffrey Holtz, of Hanover and Spring Grove-based Holtz Family Chiropractic, said the expo was a great way as a local business owner to help students with their interviewing and social skills. He said he was impressed with the students.

“They had a lot of good questions,” he said.

“One of the stands I visited mentioned, ‘No matter what you want to do, take general classes and get your feet wet in different areas,’” said Julia Wilmot, a junior at Spring Grove who plans on going to college. “So if you do like a class, maybe you’ll change your mind in what you want to do,” she said, while on the flip side, “if you do take a class and you don’t like it, you now know that’s not what you want to do.”

“Most of the students I spoke to were juniors, so many of them were starting their college search,” said Terri Van Slyke, admissions counselor at Penn State York. She said several students who approached her said they had been accepted to the school. “We have our open house on Saturday, and I had some kids come up to me and tell me they were coming, so that’s good,” she said.

Van Slyke said that while she wasn’t there in the same way other businesses were, she noticed students were “really good at coming up to people, introducing themselves and asking good questions.”

While Holtz said he wasn’t hiring, he said it was a good way to give students the opportunity to learn more about his business and about the medical field in general. “I had two (students) seriously thinking about (chiropractic),” he said, “and I made some offers to come in and shadow, so it’s been a good day.”

‘Huge leg up’: Detrich said he thinks the event is a great way to prepare students for the modern workforce.

“I love this event,” Detrich said. “It connects our students with local businesses and community organizations, and it’s just an outstanding experience for them.

“It’s the first time they’re experiencing this kind of interaction with business owners,” he said. “It’s a huge leg up for them.”

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