Carver Center’s SkillsUSA Middle School Students Win BIG in State Competitions

Left to Right: Ximena Silva-Hina, Zulema Ruiz, and Michelle Estrada

Seventh and Eighth grade students enrolled in Middle School Skills USA program at Manual Academy participated in the State-wide Skills USA competitions April 11-13th in Springfield, Illinois. This was a first for the middle school SkillsUSA program that Carver Center has operated at Manual Academy for the past two years. The students submitted 3 projects: (1) A Community Service Literacy project with 3-5 year old early childhood children enrolled in the Head Start program at Manual High School. This project, which took place on January 30, 2019 with 7th grade and February 20th, with 8th grade, was conducted as a component of the SkillUSA framework that drives the SkillsUSA curriculum. (2) A CPR/First aide, and (3) a creative photography project.

Left to right: Travis Corey, Michelle Estrada, Zulema Ruiz, Ximena Silva-Hina, and Jorge Romero

Carver Community Center with funding from the Heart of Illinois United Way has provided this career education program for 7th and 8th grade students designed to teach personal, workplace. and technical skills in preparation for the workforce and college. Sandra Burke, Coordinator, Advisor and grant writer for Middle School SkillsUSA and Charles Miner, Advisor and co-Facilitator indicates that there are only 6 middle school SkillsUSA programs in the State of Illinois.

The curriculum also encourages participation in leadership activities and Community Service. This year the students decided to focus on literacy by reading to younger students.

“Look it’s My Book” partnered with the middle school and donated 40 developmentally appropriate books for the Head Start Students to take home.

Mrs. Karen Thomas, The Site Director for the Manual High School Program did a presentation to the 7th and 8th grade students about the importance of being a good reader and how reading is essential to success in the workplace. She also taught them key vocabulary words which they in turn taught the younger children… words such as “author,” “illustrator,” and “title” were defined for the young students.

The older students learned that they could model enthusiasm for reading to the younger students who will be our future leaders. The younger students saw the older children as positive role models. As one 8th grade student wrote, “Reading to kids from Manual’s Head Start program was important to us because we attend a school in a very low-income neighborhood and society thinks of us as the “bad” kids because of where we live. We want people to know that even though we are from ‘the hood’, that we, and these young children, have a heart, potential, and a future just like anyone else. “

Mrs. Thomas has indicated that she was very impressed with the middle school students and was happy that the students had the opportunity to communicate with each other in the building. She has invited the students to volunteer in her classrooms at any time.

Mr. Elijah T. Sansom and Mr. Larry Hendricks taught photography classes and coached the students for the creative photography project. Ms. Yolanda Johnson with Advanced Medical Transport (AMT) coached the students and helped with certifications in CPR and first aid.

The Carver Center SkillsUSA program at Manual Academy won FIRST PLACE in all three competitions!

1st and 2nd place in Photography; 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place in Community Service; and 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place in CPR/first aid.

Next year, Skills will be working with middle school students from other schools and hope to have many more students attend and submit projects at the state competitions.