Banner year for students with Route 66 Raceway project
By Bob Okon email@example.com May 13, 2013 7:20PM
Joliet West High School senior Brittany Washington (at left) gets a hug from her mother Kathy (far left) as her father Gary (second from right) and aunt Sherry Knight (far right) stand nearby after the Banner Project Unveiling at Route 66 Raceway Monday, May 13, 2013, in Joliet. Brittany designed the banner at top right. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 15, 2013 6:36AM
Joliet high school students have shown entrepreneurial initiative and fundraising results for a second year in a partnership with Chicagoland Speedway.
Eight banners hanging from the stands of the Route 66 Raceway drag strip this year represent the design work of students. And a $10,000 donation to Joliet Area Community Hospice represents the marketing work of students.
“I’m excited about this,” said Brittany Washington, a senior at Joliet West High School whose banner is one of the eight that tens of thousands of visitors will see when visiting Route 66 Raceway this summer. “At school, I created something that hangs in the school, but nothing of this caliber.”
Likewise, Hector Zavala Jr., a senior at Joliet Central High School, said he’s never quite had an experience like the one he had trying to sell sponsorships for the banners in the effort to raise money for Joliet Area Community Hospice.
“I’d actually never done that before,” Zavala said. “It was a new experience. I sold one banner to Northern Illinois Steel. It was a good experience.”
Chicagoland Speedway and the Joliet Township High School District work together on the annual project to give students business and marketing experience. About 125 students in marketing, photo and desktop publishing classes at both Joliet Central and Joliet West participated.
Last year, students created park benches for the racing complex.
In both years, students have taken on the task of calling local businesses trying to sell sponsorships for their output for the sake of a donation to a charity they select by a vote.
The project gives the students an experience they could not get from the school system alone, Joliet High School District Supt. Cheryl McCarthy said.
“If we did this project alone, there wouldn’t be a banner hanging in a venue so large,” McCarthy said Monday at a ceremony outside the Route 66 Raceway, with the banners hanging in the background.
McCarthy called the project an “authentic learning” experience in which students face “critical feedback” from their peers and rejection as they make cold calls to sell sponsorships.
While eight local businesses sponsored the banners, 15 others said no and several did not return phone calls. Thirty banners were produced while eight were selected for the raceway.
“You take a risk when you do a project for a grade,” McCarthy said. “But you take a greater risk when you do a project thinking and hoping it will land in a venue like this.”
Route 66 Raceway is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, and the banners will help mark the milestone, said Scott Paddock, president of Chicagoland Speedway, which also has an oval race track and mud track at the racing complex.
“We couldn’t be more proud of this program,” Paddock said. “It’s a great example of a private-public partnership that is going to benefit students for years to come.”
The $10,000 raised for Joliet Area Community Hospice, which provides end-of-life care for terminally ill patients, will help fund services at the agency, said Rick Kasper, chief executive of the organization.
“Last year alone we gave away $560,000 in free care in the community,” Kasper told students and sponsors at the raceway. “You folks did an amazing job in helping us fill that hole.”
Other students with banners at Route 66 Speedway are Julio Rios (Joliet Central sophomore), Fred Sorrell (Joliet Central freshman), Zoe Krmpotich (Joliet West junior), Chance Paluga (Joliet Central senior), Christina Bibian (Joliet Central senior), Imani Brooks (Joliet West junior), and Marisol Carmago (Joliet Central senior).