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Union Grove part of SkillsUSA's curriculum launch

Union Grove High School juniors, RobWellden and Michael Campbell, put their skills to use recently, and were able to help provide a community service in the process.

The pair were taking part in an activity organized SkillsUSA, a national organization that serves teachers and high school and college students, who are preparing for careers in technical, skilled and service occupations.

"Community service is part of SkillsUSA's Program of Work," said Tim Lawrence, executive director of SkillsUSA. "We want every chapter to participate in some form of community service, and this new curriculum helps students and advisors to organize a community service activity for a chapter. We're delighted to be able to offer such a unique tool."

Wellden and Campbell recently received instruction on the use of a new curriculum that combines the skills learned in the classroom with practical ways to use those skills in the community. The new community service curriculum is being called "Champions Serving Others."

The curriculum is designed to assist teachers in facilitating student leadership development through community service, according to Debbie Peabody, Union Grove's Engineering and Architectural Drawing Instructor. "What they're hoping now is that each local high school chapter will use this curriculum, and apply it in their own community," Peabody said. "I do hope that we'll come back to school next year with a list of ideas."

Peabody, who instructs Wellden and Campbell in engineering drawing and architectural drawing, also is advisor for the school's 82-member SkillsUSA chapter. She accompanied the students on an outing to Atlanta on May 29.

The two students took part in a community service project in which they helped landscape M. Agnes Jones Elementary School, in Atlanta, said Peabody. Union Grove was one of 14 SkillsUSA chapters in Georgia selected to participate in the kick-off event. Each chapter brought at least one advisor and two students.

Peabody said the group cleared an interactive nature trail, built planters, planted trees and flowers and cleaned up playground areas.

A celebration was held at the end of the day and "Champions Serving Others" medals were given to the students and teachers. She said Lowe's Charitable and Educational Foundation also awarded $65,000 to SkillsUSA.

"We want students to realize how important it is to serve the community," Peabody said. "I think Lowe's, and company's like that, see the benefit in helping students."

John Powers, district manager for Lowe's, and Charmaine Ward, director of community affairs for Georgia Pacific, spoke at the kick-off event.

"This new curriculum represents Lowe's commitment to education and community service," said Powers. "supporting community service projects in local schools, we believe we are not only investing in community projects that are important to our customers and employees, but we're also helping schools build a stronger foundation for the students, who will be tomorrow's employees, homeowners and community leaders."