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STLP students bring ‘blessings’ to community

By Camille McClanahan

On Jan. 6, some Grant County High School technology students launched Operation Take Charge as part of a Student Technology Leadership (STLP) tournament showcase.
Their vision was two-fold: to give back to the community and to complete a project that the group proposed at the STLP regional competition.
They offered the community a free five-week course in technology and professionalism, covering topics such as resume writing, professionalism skills using/maneuvering the computer and using Microsoft Office Word, PowerPoint and Excel software programs.
“I am so proud of them,” said  Helen Southworth, the group’s STLP coach. “They wrote the whole curriculum themselves. They’ve put a lot of time into this. You know, teachers make changes daily, based on what the students need. I really enjoyed watching them make changes and adapt to their students.”
Five STLP students were involved in the school. Daniel Miller and Jake H. Kinman served as instructors, Sabrina Prince and Daniel Crockett were assistant instructors and Maryellen Shanklin kept class records.
They gave their adult students an added incentive to attend by entering them in a drawing for a free laptop computer, upon meeting outlined criteria. Although the students earned the money to purchase the laptop through various fundraising adventures, they got a break that they did not expect.
“We were so highly blessed and favored,” Miller said. “We looked at purchasing one through Best Buy or a consumer store like that, but once we had the money, we found out that we actually had to buy it through the school’s Dell contract. When we talked to Becky Epperson, the network administrator for the district, and we are so blessed, they are actually donating us a laptop.”
Those who registered for the free technology training embraced the course.
 “I was scared to buy a computer, because I figured at my age I couldn’t learn it,” said 86-year-old Dorothy Kennedy. “And, I’ve at least got enough nerve now that I’m going to buy one. I like to look up family trees, the genealogy and I want to do coupons.”
The classes developed into mutual learning opportunities as barriers that separated generations were broken down by mutual respect.
“I had a little bit of nervousness coming in, but everyone adapted well and they took it seriously,” Miller said. “You could tell that they all wanted to be here and they wanted to learn. It was a very positive experience.”
On the last night of class some participants nervously completed final exams, but were rewarded with a dinner prepared by the students and their advisors, Southworth and Kristie Howard. Certificates of completion were given, along with an Academic MVP Award going to Kennedy and the climatic drawing for the laptop.
“It was real good,” said Wayne Horn, who won the computer. “ I learned quite bit from it.”
The STLP students will attend the state STLP Showcase Tournament at Rupp Arena in April, where they will present the culmination of their efforts. The unused money earned for the laptop will be added to the organization’s treasury.
As for their adult students, the full extent of their classroom experience may be more difficult to quantify.
“Bless their hearts, I love them,” Kennedy said. “They gave up their time to do this and it’s just a blessing to us.”