Classroom work extended into the real world Thursday evening at Berkmar High School.
The third Greater Lilburn Business Expo was as much a student project as it was a community get-together with more than 80 local businesses.
But make no mistake about it, according to Berkmar teachers, the students were the ones to make it all happen. There was adult participation in coordinating the show, to be sure — Lilburn Mayor Diana Preston, for instance, was an active promoter — but the kids played the most important roles in making it a success.
“They've done everything from contacting the businesses to networking … really everything,” said Jadd Jarusinski, who teaches video production and broadcast journalism at the Lilburn high school. “This really is the kids' show.”
More than 100 Berkmar students worked on putting on the show. Tasks included communicating with each other and show exhibitors, creating and updating a website (www.lilburnexpo.com), mapping out where booths would be located on the floor of the Berkmar gymnasium and helping with the set-up and breakdown.
And there was more. “Student Ambassadors” interacted with exhibitors and visitors throughout the three-hour show. They shot video and interviewed business people. They emceed prize giveaways. Students of the Berkmar Culinary Arts Department provided tasty concession items that went over well with many exhibitors.
The experience taught the student lessons of planning, teamwork, making deadlines and quality of work. It also fine-tuned life skills like communicating with adults and making an impact in the community.
“It takes them out of the classroom and puts them in a real-life situation,” said Sue Saverine, who teaches Web design. “This is something they just can’t get in a classroom.”
Hao Tran, who worked on Web page design team, was part of the tech support that updated the site and used a computer program to map out the floor plan. His interest is in computer technology, possibly as an architect who draw home plans digitally.
“This has been like a real-life job,” he said. “It’s been fun and hard at the same time.”
Broadcast journalism students Brandon Mandel and Jordan O’Conner interviewed show attendees for a video that they will produce on the show for class credit. Mandel was the interviewer and O’Conner worked the camera. Both take Jarusinski’s class on video broadcast journalism.
"This experience has really shown me that after college, this is something I could be doing," said O'Conner, who wants to study International Business in college, but also has an strong interest in technology skills.
Mandel, who does the morning news at Berkmar, said the show was "eye-opening" on community reach.
"You always hear about the big corporation, but you don't hear as much about the local businesses," he said. "They're what makes the community go around."
Mandel definitely sees broadcasting in his future. "I'd love to do this for a career," he said. "Hopefully for someone like ESPN."