By LISA STARK
On Dec. 10, the South County Career Center on John Sherman Way in Ruskin hosted a luncheon entitled, “FCCLA Holiday Harmony Partnership” at its Bobcat Bistro for pre-K students in the Early Exceptional Learning Program at Ruskin Elementary School.
“This has become a holiday tradition for us over the past several years,” said Vickie Thomas, program advisor for the Career Center. “It’s rewarding for our students to do something so positive for kids around the holiday time, and the pre-K students have a wonderful time.”
As part of their FCCLA school project, students enrolled in SCCC’s Culinary Arts Program, instructed by chef Felicia Harris, prepared and served a festive luncheon for approximately 50 pre-K students. The FCCLA, or Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, is devoted to fostering leadership skills in high-school age students.
Senior coordinators Victor Santiago and Brian Jones were busy throughout the morning, ensuring that the children got to take advantage of all the holiday activities planned for them. “We have an agenda to divide the students up and get them into the proper groups for activities,” said Santiago.
Jones said: “We have about 10 students per activity,” which included Christmas cookie decoration, making beaded necklaces and storytelling activities held in the main dining room.
“Santa’s helpers” also included culinary students dressed as elves and as Mr. and Mrs. Claus. Stephen Lee became the storytelling “Grinch,” reciting the Dr. Seuss classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas to fascinated preschoolers. “It’s truly a project that takes cooperation by all,” said one parent, “including students, staff, parents and teachers.”
Principal Sandra Bailey was on hand to lend guidance and support, while head chef and culinary teacher Harris, along with assistant chef Valeska Bidot, manned the helm in the kitchen, supervising the preparation of lunch and dessert goodies for the children.
“We love coming here every year for this,” said Litisha Carr, mother of pre-K student Christina. “It’s fun and rewarding for everyone.” SCCC Students even purchased gifts for Santa to distribute to each child after the luncheon.
The South County Career Center is a unique career-oriented facility for at-risk high-school-age students living in southern Hillsborough County. Through a combination of academic remediation and technical training, students can earn their Florida High School performance-based diploma while acquiring the skills to enter the workforce. Some of the programs offered include Army JROTC, Automotive Service, Medical Administration, Culinary Arts and EMT Responder. Principal Sandra Bailey knows the importance of building community relationships and encourages her faculty and students to create and participate in volunteer opportunities that fulfill SCCC’s vision: “Building Our Communities’ Future.”