Calvert Career Center in Prince Frederick, Md., held a fund-raiser to benefit the Samaritan Children’s Home in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka, which was destroyed by the Dec. 26 tsunami. The orphans survived, but their housing compound was destroyed.
To raise funds, the carpentry classes made benches for a silent auction. The cosmetology classes sponsored a beauty services clinic and offered haircuts and blow-drys, shampoos and sets, plus facials, manicures and pedicures. The nursing classes did blood pressure screenings, and staff and students provided items for a bake sale.
SkillsUSA Massachusetts officers, in conjunction with their state’s alumni association, held a holiday party for underprivileged children at the Boys and Girls Club of Cape Cod.
Children received hats, mittens and books collected during the state’s fall conference. The state officer team also raised $550 to purchase presents and hold an ice cream party. The alumni sponsored crafts activities, and the Massachusetts Air National Guard provided breakfast plus 25 pizzas for lunch.
To inform their school and community about important health and safety topics, the SkillsUSA chapter at Harris County High School in Hamilton, Ga., started creating short, televised public service announcements (PSAs).
Students research, write, produce and edit the segments, called “Medical Minutes.” The segments are shown on the morning news at the school and are televised by the local NBC affiliate on Saturday mornings.
What started in 2001 has become an ongoing Community Service project for the SkillsUSA chapter, earning them a silver medal at nationals in 2004.
“They’re health care science technology students,” explains instructor Phyllis Johnson. “So they all have an interest in the medical field, and we figured the best thing to do was community service that was related to their career interest.
“We originally started showing it on school news, and then a lot of the teachers said, ‘this is really good, y’all need to do something more with this.’ So I called some of the local TV stations. The NBC affiliate in Columbus is really good at looking at community service projects, and they sponsor a lot of things in the community, so I called, then went down and talked to them, and a producer wanted to meet the kids.”
Before the TV station started actually running the PSAs, they decided the project itself was a great story. A local talk show host interviewed the students and ran a couple of the Medical Minutes.
“The people just loved the Medical Minutes,” Johnson says. So, the chapter decided to create more.
“This whole year, we’ve sent tapes and they [the television station] helped with editing because we don’t have the equipment. They’ve been able to take our digital footage, do some editing, add a little music and credits at the end that say: ‘Harris County High School SkillsUSA Community Service Team.’”
Melissa Zuerner, Adam Johnson and Whitney Mixon appear in the PSAs while classmates help with cue cards, camera work and research. The group brainstorms for a topic, does some research and comes up with a loose idea of what point they’ll make with the PSA. Then they rough out what scenes they’re going to do and tape them as they go.
Most productions are just 60 seconds and cover topics relative to the time of year.
“We did one in the summer on sun safety and Adam’s in the background. The whole time I’m talking and explaining what you need to do ... like wear a hat, wear sunglasses,” Mixon explains. “He’s in the background, and the items are then thrown at him. He’s putting on a hat, and he’s globbing on the sunscreen. We do goofy things to get folks’ attention.”
They get the audience’s attention so much so that they’re becoming local celebrities.
“You go and get your hair cut and people say they saw you on TV this morning. It’s a nice way to know that people are really watching,” Adam Johnson says.
Zuerner adds how they never thought their project would get them so much attention, but they just got things done one step at a time. “Ms. Johnson would point us in the direction of the bigwigs and tell us to talk to them. That’s how we’ve worked our way up. For each level you approach, you’ll meet someone at a higher level who will help you get to the next level. It was scary at first because we thought we’d get turned down, but it happened, and we are amazed.”
SkillsUSA students at West Point (Miss.) Career and Technology Center set out to hold a five-day loose change drive for the American Red Cross Tsunami Relief Fund. The class collecting the most was to be rewarded with pizza. Enter new partners. When contacted about the reward, Domino’s Pizza staff said they’d donate 20 percent of a day’s sales to West Point High School’s Interact Club.
When members of the local Rotary International learned of those efforts, they agreed to match Domino’s 20 percent. Next, the SkillsUSA students decided to add their take to the till, and that total was then matched by Domino’s headquarters for a grand total of $4,311.
SkillsUSA students at Shoemaker High School in Killeen, Texas, wanted to show support for the children at neighboring Clear Creek Elementary School whose parents had been deployed to active duty from nearby Fort Hood. With the Health Occupations Students of America members from another high school, the SkillsUSA students collected approximately 400 teddy bears for the children.
The toy bears, donated by local businesses and the student organizations, were later distributed during an assembly at the elementary school. According to SkillsUSA advisor Brenda Drawdy, the event, known as “Bears Because We Care,” was part of Texas’ Celebrate Freedom Week.
The SkillsUSA chapter at Apollo Career Center in Lima, Ohio, has raised more than $11,000 to help the school’s history teacher, Kim Hawk, cover the expense of her 2-year-old daughter Abby’s treatment of neuroblastoma.
Fund-raisers have included dress-down days, a festival of bands, a dance, candy sales and direct donations.
Following six months of chemotherapy at Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, Abby traveled with her mother to Presbyterian Hospital in New York, where surgeries have begun to remove the tumors.
Now in its second full year, SkillsUSA’s Chapter StandardsProgram helps every student member learn, improve as an individual and prepare for employment.
The online, interactive program helps instructors track students’ growth and meet local and state requirements for standards. Those who enroll receive special recognition and benefits from SkillsUSA, including a certificate, a decal for display in their classrooms, and educational resources and materials.
To tour this free program, visit www.skillsusa.org/students.html and click on the “Chapter Standards” link.
SkillsUSA Champions | Summer 2005 | Volume 39, No. 4