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BCA’s SkillsUSA Chapter Goes Beyond the Classroom for Community Service

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SkillsUSA members read to the students of Bleshman Regional Day School in Paramus, NJ.

Students of Bleshman Regional Day School received an unexpected visit several weeks ago when 8 members of BCA’s SkillsUSA Chapter hosted a reading day for them.

“We believe in the main idea of this project: to raise as much awareness of autism as possible throughout our school and our community.”

Located in Paramus, New Jersey, Bleshman School specifically serves students with autism and other special needs, ages 3-21. The reading day was an event hosted by some of our very own BCA juniors as part of their community service project for the SkillsUSA competition that is to take place in mid-April. ACAHA students Gianna Valente, Anthony Desimini, Stella So, Allison Jaworski, Rocio Hernandez, Lauren Zoneraich, Sophia Serrao, and Hana Frideman planned, organized, and executed the project.

On February 23, executive officers of BCA’s chapter of SkillsUSA, a competitive organization that promotes technical careers and professionalism, brought nearly forty books to the classrooms at Bleshman. The officers were split into pairs and visited four different classrooms to read to the students and their teacher-aids.  The community service team along with other members of  the SkillsUSA club read to each of the classrooms for nearly an hour, after which they were able to talk to some of the students and get to know them better.

Jaworski described the gratification of the experience. She said,“The best part of it all was seeing the kids interacting with us and talking to the teacher-aids after.” She continued, “Of course, not all of the students were able to interact with us but hearing how much this truly meant to the students overall made it worthwhile.”  

To many of the team members, the project was not only a competition, but an opportunity to take initiative and make a tangible difference in the community.

Valente expanded on the initial rationale that took place in the planning stages between the community service team members. She said, “When we were trying to pick a topic for our competition, our main goal was just to try and select something that would best benefit our immediate community.” Valente also stressed, “Many people do not realize that autism actually affects many more people than we may think. As we planned our project, we came to understand that there is a lot of work that can be done even just within our local community.”  

Fellow team member So commented on the ultimate goals of the project and the accomplishments she would like to see realized. “Not only are we happy to be taking part in SkillsUSA,” she said,  “but we believe in the main idea of this project: to raise as much awareness of autism as possible throughout our school and our community.”

Now, the next goal of the team is to donate the books to the Bleshman School permanently. Additionally, due to the success of the first project, the SkillsUSA club of BCA has already been asked to come back and recreate similar activities for a larger group of students.

Team member Hernandez believes increased opportunities such as this one are exactly what will allow the project to make a greater impact in the long-run. She elaborated, “We want to make sure people are well aware of the facts about these conditions and ways that they can help, so information and communication are key in spreading the word.”   

Aside from the reading day, the community service team also mentioned that they are currently implementing other projects,  including a book drive and school wide autism-awareness day.

Ultimately, the community service project is just one of the many categories SkillsUSA members are competing in this year, and the competition is one that students of the Academy for Culinary Arts and Hotel Administration participate in annually.  Either individually or as a group, members compete first at the state level and then, if they qualify, at the national level, with this year’s championships to take place in Louisville, Kentucky.

The Academy Chronicle eagerly anticipates the outcome of all the activities the community service team has planned  and wishes the entire SkillsUSA BCA Chapter the best of luck in the upcoming competition!

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BCA’s SkillsUSA Chapter Goes Beyond the Classroom for Community Service