A line of mini firefighters, doctors, zookeepers and artists filed into the gymnasium of Wilson Elementary School on Wednesday afternoon.

After a month-long unit focused on learning about different careers, the kindergartners were ready to announce what they planned to do with their lives.

“Learning about different careers in our community is part of our kindergarten social studies standards,” said Jill Hedlund, kindergarten teacher.

During the month of April, Hedlund, Angela Hoskins and Mandy Meagher introduced their kindergartners to different careers with the help of some parents.

Parents volunteered to come speak to the classes about their careers, and some even helped to organize field trips so the students could visit them.

They got to hear from a systems engineer, a nurse practitioner, a mechanic and a hairstylist, among others.

The students also got the opportunity to take field trips to a variety of workplaces including the Fort Hays State University training facility, the Hays Fire Department, the Kansas National Guard Armory, Hays Academy of Hair Design, the Smokin Co BBQ truck, and the airport to learn about EagleMed.

On Wednesday afternoon, each child got in front of the microphone during the career program to share what they want to be when they grow up.

While there were many careers represented — a boxer, a dancer, a DJ, a dentist and a chef — two careers were the most popular:

Police officers and teachers were tied for first place.

“Like police officers, teachers are like our first line,” said Anita Scheve, Wilson Elementary principal. “They teach the kids social skills and how to navigate school for the years to come.”

Teaching is also the first career many children are exposed to daily, and based on the comments from students, USD 489 teachers are doing an adequate job.

Lendyn Melvin, with a pencil holding her tightly woven bun and her wide rimmed glasses sitting on the tip of her nose, said she wants to be a teacher so she can help children.

“I love school,” Melvin said.

Cady Graham proudly wore her Wilson Warrior T-shirt and cardigan.

“I want to be a teacher and be just like Mrs. Hedlund,” Graham said.

Hedlund, who is retiring after 32 years of teaching, watched her 27th career program Wednesday afternoon.

Some of her former kindergarten students are now out in the workforce.

“It has been interesting to look back at the booklets and see how many actually do what they thought they wanted to do in kindergarten,” Hedlund said.

With National Teacher Appreciation Week celebrated during the first week of May, the number of students who chose teaching as their profession was a tip of the hat for those teaching them.

And while the children might decide not to be a boxer “like Rocky” or an astronaut, the preparations for their futures began in kindergarten.

One of the songs Gloria Blackwell, music teacher, led the students in Wednesday represented that: “My life is spread before me, and I see many possibilities.”