GARFIELD PARK-Charles Tate stood in front of a table with a life-sized dummy, whose arm attached to thin tubes and a bag filled with fake, imitation blood.

The dummy’s arm was a representation of the phlebotomy training courses Manley Career Academy High School, 2935 W. Polk St., offers to its students.

“That’s cool,” Tate said to the person behind the table.

Tate, who attends Alain Locke Charter School in East Garfield Park, wants to attend either Manley Career Academy or UIC College Prep to be a cardiac surgeon, he said.

More than 1,000 eighth-grade students and their parents packed George Westinghouse College Prep in East Garfield Park Oct. 20 for the Austin-North Lawndale Elementary Network’s annual high school fair.

Students, like 13-year-old Tate, from across the West Side had the opportunity to meet with representatives from more than 30 high schools in Chicago. The students received help in deciding which school they wished to attend next year.

Jacqueline Brooks-Paige, a differentiated instruction specialist for the Network, said the high school fair helps students decide on a school that will address their specific interests.

“The fair is extremely important,” Brooks-Paige said. “They need to know their options.”

The two-hour fair required students to bring a “passport” to various school stations, and receive a stamp from a representative of the schools they liked. Teddrick Wilkerson, 13, a student at Nash Elementary School, had his passport stamped at the Austin Polytechnical Academy table.

He said he is interested in attending the school, as he’s heard “good things” about it.

Annette Gurley, chief officer of elementary schools for the Network, said far too many times students choose high schools based on where someone in their family attended. They also go by old reputations of schools, he said. The elementary network, Gurley explained, wants students to understand that they have ample choices.

“We want to make sure students are aware of their options early enough that it will make a difference,” she said. “This gives us the opportunity to put as many of those options as we can in one place for them.”

Tyrone Slaughter, an assistant to the administrative director at Whitney M. Young Magnet High School, stood at a table with the school’s selective enrollment applications, registration forms and brochures.

“There are no better goodies than information,” Slaughter said.

The students are also planning to write an essay about their experience and what they learned at the fair, said Brooks-Paige.

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