TCHS Brandywine students compete in SkillsUSA competition

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On Saturday December 16, 2017, SkillsUSA students from Technical College High School Brandywine Campus, participated in in the National Wreaths Across America Day event held at the Hopewell United Methodist Church in Downingtown, PA.

Technical College High School (TCHS) Brandywine Campus SkillsUSA students are offering their own take on what it means to be an American through a series of projects across Chester County. TCHS Brandywine Campus SkillsUSA students have completed three separate projects as part of their American Spirit project entry at the SkillsUSA state competition. The three projects completed by the students focus on patriotism, promoting career & technical education and community service.

SkillsUSA is a nonprofit partnership of students, instructors and industry experts which seek to develop the future skilled labor workforce in the United States.

The purpose of the American Spirit project is to evaluate local SkillsUSA chapter activities for projects which emphasize community service, citizenship and projects with patriotic overtones that demonstrate a belief in the American way of life.

The first project completed by the students focused on patriotism. The students participated in the National Wreaths Across America Day event held at Hopewell United Methodist Church in Downingtown, PA. The Wreaths Across America organization honors veterans each December by laying wreaths at soldiers’ graves. Students who participated in the event included Angeles Lema, Marlen Gonzalez-Alpizar, Savannah Barber, Felicite Gilbert, Max Neumann and Hannah Gilbert.

Students from the American Spirit team helped raise funds in class to purchase five wreaths for the event. Over 300 wreaths were donated to be placed on gravesites.

The second project the students completed focused on promoting career & technical education. TCHS was one of three high schools from across the nation selected to host a delegation of national SkillsUSA officers as part of SkillsUSA Week. The event featured an appreciation breakfast for faculty, staff and students as well as a series of presentations and tours of TCHS Pickering. SkillsUSA Week is the annual celebration highlighting the benefits of the SkillsUSA program in developing personal, workplace and technical skills grounded in academics. There are approximately 335,000 SkillsUSA members nationwide.

National SkillsUSA officers Lizetthe Moreno, Grace Kirrane, Madison Whitney and Scott Hicks spent the day at TCHS Pickering attending the SkillsUSA appreciation event. The officers traveled from Texas, Massachusetts, Utah and Georgia, respectively, for the event.

The final project focused on community service. TCHS Brandywine SkillsUSA students partnered with Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU) students to share some kindness with those in need. Students in the Head Start program, under the supervision of TCHS Brandywine Campus SkillsUSA students, decorated 25 boxes that were then filled with food to be donated to the Chester County Food Bank. The kindness boxes for the event will benefit senior citizens in the Chester County community.

The TCHS Brandywine Campus SkillsUSA American Spirit project team for the kindness boxes included Early Childhood Care & Education (ECCE) program students Angeles Lema, Marlen Alpizar-Gonzalez and Savannah Barber. TCHS Brandywine Campus SkillsUSA students used the skills they learned in the ECCE program to use this project as a way to help teach younger students about community service and teamwork.

According to American Spirit project team member Angeles Lema, the students received more from this project than they gave. “Working with the children to decorate the boxes provided the opportunity to not just do community service, but to also teach the importance of community service to the next generation,” said Lema.

Fellow American Spirit project member Savannah Barber concurs with Lema about the value this project provided. “Knowing that we were providing a service to seniors in our community was something that meant a lot to us all. It had an impact on the children in Head Start and it had an impact on us,” said Barber.

Dr. Tom Harner, the advisor for the TCHS Brandywine Campus SkillsUSA chapter, noted the passion his students brought to all of these projects. “One of the great things about my SkillsUSA students is that they bring their unique gifts, talents and passions to the projects they undertake. In this case, they demonstrated the American ideal of helping one’s neighbor and working together as a community to help those in need,” said Harner.

All three projects will be submitted as part of the American Spirit project award competition at the SkillsUSA Pennsylvania State Conference on April 19, 2018.

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