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Forward in the Fifth is taking the lead on the local level this month to give 1,700 middle and high school students in Pulaski County’s three school districts the chance to plan for their future as part of the statewide Operation Preparation initiative.

Operation Preparation, a new college- and career-advising program, is targeted to reach every eighth-grade and sophomore student in Pulaski County and as many as 150,000 students across Kentucky.

During the week of March 12-16, local efforts will allow students in the Pulaski County, Somerset and Science Hill Independent school districts to talk one-on-one with professional volunteers about their career goals and the education courses needed to reach their career objectives.

“Operation Preparation is a great opportunity for the community’s professionals and students to discuss the knowledge and skills necessary to pursue postsecondary education or the workforce today. Allowing our present and future generations to work together in this format is a perfect way to further the goals of this initiative, as well as Forward in the Fifth.”

Jim Tackett, Executive Director
Forward in the Fifth

Forward in the Fifth, a nonprofit organization working to advance educational attainment levels in Southern and Eastern Kentucky, is recruiting volunteer community advisors and coordinating Operation Preparation school visits at Southern Middle, Meece Middle, and eighth-grade classes at Science Hill Independent School District, and the county’s four high schools at Southwestern, Pulaski County, Pulaski Central, and Somerset.

“I am excited that our students at Southwestern High School will have the opportunity for an advisement session with members from the local business, community members, and professionals,” said school principal Danita Ellis. “Operation Preparation is just another way to validate our vision and mission of every student graduating college/career ready and prepared for the 21st Century.”

“The Somerset Independent Schools are pleased to be part of the partnership that will provide our students with the best tools available for them to be better prepared to make individual choices,” added Superintendent Boyd Randolph. “The impact of business and industry partners will be an authentic real-life experience that only our partners can provide. We are grateful for this experience for our children and community.”

The local effort is an extension of Forward in the Fifth’s work with the College Access Network to encourage more students to stay in school and become college and career-ready.

“This is an excellent opportunity for our community to be involved in the educational process,” Dr. Beth Hargis, co-chair of the College Access Network and principal of Pulaski County Area Technology Center, said. “Hopefully, in the long run, this will have a positive impact on our local workforce.”

During Operation Preparation, trained volunteers will meet one-on-one with eighth-grade and sophomore students to talk about career aspirations and required education or training to meet their career goals. Students and volunteers will go over Individual Learning Plans, discuss student’s targeted career aspirations, and assess whether or not each student is taking the courses recommended to prepare for a successful future. Each session is expected to last about 20 minutes.

Afterwards, parents will receive information on how they can continue to support their students on the path to college and career readiness.

Volunteer community advisors will represent 14 different career cultures in the fields of agriculture, arts and humanities, business education, marketing education, communications, education, health science, human services, information technology, manufacturing, public services, science and mathematics, social sciences, and transportation.

The goal is to get everyone in the state behind Kentucky’s college and career readiness goals and preparing students along the way.

Operation Preparation, a week set aside to focus on the importance of planning for college and/or career through a community-based volunteer advising program, is a joint initiative of the Kentucky Department of Education and the Department of Workforce Development in collaboration with various education and business partners.

For more information about Operation Preparation, contact Forward in the Fifth, an affiliate of The Center for Rural Development in Somerset, at 606-677-6000 or email