PORTLAND, Ore. – After a tour of the Oregon Convention Center on Wednesday, more than 50 middle school students from the SEI Academyhad a chance to race through the OCC exhibit halls three weeks before the world’s best athletes compete in the IAAF World Indoor Championships Portland 2016, March 17-20.

The field trip was a new element of the school’s academic, professional and personal support program created as part of Portland 2016 activities culminating in the championships. The tour was arranged by OCC staff and TrackTown USA, the local organizing committee for the IAAF World Indoor Championships.

For many students, this was their first visit to the Oregon Convention Center. The field trip was part of TrackTown’s ongoing effort to promote the IAAF World Indoor Championships as “more than a meet” by connecting the event with local community members of all ages.

The SEI Academy students were welcomed by OCC personnel with a series of short presentations on the many professional opportunities which exist at the facility: sales, guest services, operations, administration, event management, audio/visual and catering. Besides explaining how they landed in their current roles, OCC staff were able to get the students excited about how “small, part-time roles can be a stepping stone to discovering a passion,” one that still resonates with many staff members.

For the students, one of the highlights of the tour was a visit to the massive exhibit halls where a temporary 7,000-seat stadium will soon be built for the meet, including a new 200-meter banked oval track. “Can I run in here?” asked one wide-eyed student as he surveyed the vast empty space. Many of the students will return to the OCC in just a couple of weeks to watch the Opening Ceremony and Pole Vault competition which kicks off the IAAF World Indoor Championships on March 17 at 6 p.m.

The other favorite stop was the kitchen, where students were introduced to the many aspects of the catering business. They were excited to put on hair nets before entering the kitchen, prompting one student to exclaim, “The only way this could be better is if doughnuts were raining from the ceiling!”

TrackTown USA is proud to partner with the SEI Academy and Oregon Convention Center on this endeavor, and it hopes that lasting relationships can be achieved with all ages in the community through additional professional development programs.