Labor Day is the national holiday that honors the workers of the United States. While adults are busy working and supporting themselves and their families, children are busy at school, learning the skills they will need to join the work force in the future.

For a first-grader, with an entire school career in the future, deciding which profession he or she willpursue as an adult seems a long way away.

But the Gil Sanchez Elementary School first-graders in Gyorgyi Stringer’s class have been putting some thought into what they want to do when they grow up.

They all had an idea, but most didn’t know how to reach their dream-job goals. Veronica Martinez wasn’t sure what she needs to do to become a veterinarian except to help animals and “grow up.”

In the classroom were future artists, cowboys, soldiers, scientists, policemen, firefighters and teachers. There are even those who dream of a non-traditional career.

Reyes Andrade wants to be Elvis. When asked what Elvis did, he said “play the guitar and sing.”

Mandalin Mickie said she wants to be a race car driver, like her father, but “I’ll have to learn to drive first.”

Justin Billingsley wants to be a monster-truck driver so he can jump cars and smash them. He also thinks being a cop would be fun because they shoot guns.

There were several artists in the class.

Brittany Gonzales wants to be a painter. “I like painting flowers,” she said. She figures artists look around and paint what they see.

Caridad Cruz also wants to be an artist and paint butterflies, hearts and “everything else that’s nice.” She says that, to become a painter, she has to practice.

Martha Dominguez wants to express her artistic self in dance. To become a dancer, she says, you have to “dance all around.”

She actually has several ideas about what she wants to do when she grows up. Besides dancing, she wants to work at Wal-Mart “so I can get a lot of money.”

Crystal Smith wants to use her creative skills as a chef because she likes cooking. She has already learned how to make tortillas, sopapillas, cookies and even pizza. She says she will have to go to school to be a chef.

Other students want to create with wood.

“I want to be a builder, like my dad,” said Tyler Wade. “A builder works on house and stores. I work with my dad now, so I’m already learning.”

“I want to build things in houses,” said Jessie Rivera. “They use hammers and pliers.”

Several of the students want to be scientists.

Monica Garley-Moore wants to do research on dolphin communications. She would also like to teach and be an artist. She said she decided she wants to work with the dolphins after watching a movie about the sea mammals.

“I want to help the dolphins get out of the drift nets when they are caught by captains (of boats),” she said. “I’m going to go to school and learn more about this.”

Dominguez also wants to work with dolphins and said she would like to swim with them. “Dolphins save you from the sharks,” she said.

The world of dinosaurs fascinates Tristan Baca and Michael Jaramillo.

“I want to be a paleontologist,” Baca said. “They study dinosaurs.”

“I want to be an archeologist and find dinosaur bones,” Jaramillo said. “You have to go to school to learn it, and then you take a test.”

There were others who wanted to go into traditional jobs.

“I want to be an army man,” said Jose Rivera. “They get to go in airplanes and kill the bad guys.”

If he doesn’t become a soldier, Rivera said, he’d like to be a policeman or fireman.

Amador Gallegos also wants to fight the bad guys as a policeman. “If someone is mean to someone, you take them to jail,” he said.

Danny Gurule wants to combine stopping the “mean people” with his love of horses by becoming a detective cowboy. “I want to be a detective that rides a horse and works in the country,” he said.

Joshua Jackson said he just wants to be a cowboy. “Cowboys fight and shoot and never go to bed. They ride horses, rope cows. I don’t know how to become one, I just want to be one,” he said.

Karina Dow isn’t too sure about what she wants to do, she just wants to be a worker.

“I help my dad work on his machines and tractor,” she said. “I like working. I want to work for different people and go to their houses to work.” She would also like to be a teacher.

Stringer’s students seemed to have some good ideas as to what they want to do when they grow up.

But, right now, their biggest job is to learn to write their names and to read and spell words, such as paleontologist.

Stringer encourages her students to turn their dreams into reality. “I tell each one of them I want them to go to college,” she said. “That goal has to be planted in their minds early so they will work towards it.”

They have their work cut out for themselves in the next 12 years in building the foundation they will need to join the work force that is honored the first Monday of each September on Labor Day.

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Jane Moorman