How do you get hands-on learning during a pandemic? Alamance County students are drafting up big plans for that

What's Right with Our Schools

ALAMANCE COUNTY, N.C. — Learning by doing: that’s how Career and Technical Education students typically learn in their classes. But with the pandemic that has been hard to achieve.

One class in Alamance County is getting as close to the norm as possible,

Steve Smith teaches sports, entertainment and marketing at Eastern Alamance High School. He says since COVID hit, his classes have been very different, but his students are learning.

“They’ve now learned about target markets,” he said. “They’ve learned about how to collect data, to make business decisions. And we’re learning the focus of this is promotions. They’re putting it all together, and Mebane is a very fast-growing town and we’ve decided that we should do a bigger event for the town to kind of be a signature event.”

So he asked his students to “Map Out Mebane.” He wants them to come up with a signature event, and then do all the things necessary to make it successful.

“I want to be as specific as possible right down to, if they’re going to do a TV ad, what TV station are they going to put it all on? What time? When, where, why and why?” Smith said.

To him, the “why” is the most important.

“If you’re going to put it on this TV station, well, why did you choose that one?” he said. “Is that the target market that you’re trying to attract? Are they actually going to see it? Where are you going to put your billboard, right? Are you going to put it 20 miles away? Are you going to put it at each end of town so that people drive by and see it? I want them to think of all those little details.”

It appears the students are doing that and more. They are working in groups. Some are in class, in-person, and some are online. Their ideas are very diverse. 

“We’re coming up with a cultural festival to put in Mebane, North Carolina,” said senior Kendall Goins. “So we’re trying to look at different people within the community, to talk to them about what they want to see and who they want to see represented, what kind of things they’d like to see integrated here going forward. And we hope to expand that to many different communities within the United States, so that people are learning more about their culture and other people’s cultures and how to be represented.”

Goins is the team leader for his group’s project. COVID definitely brought new challenges especially since none of his group members are in class at the same time.

“I just have to give everyone direction and, you know, different parts they’re assigned to, and then we all come together and talk about how we can improve or how we can incorporate it to whatever we’re working on,” Goins said.

That doesn’t bother him or freshman Trace Byrd.

He said, “It’s me here and then I have other people on the Zoom call. … Actually it’s been easy. They split us and everybody’s pitching in, and it gets done right, and been pretty fun.”

Fun that makes learning easier, especially during a pandemic. 

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