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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Pioneer Pride: How I spent my summer

  • Many Pioneer students, and recent graduates like myself, use the summer break to develop skills for athletics and activities, gain professional work experience, and maybe even attempt to make a little money.
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  • Many Pioneer students, and recent graduates like myself, use the summer break to develop skills for athletics and activities, gain professional work experience, and maybe even attempt to make a little money. Attending summer camps, logging countless hours in the weight room and practice facilities, or holding a full-time job at your favorite restaurant, are just a few examples of how my fellow classmates spent June and July. What did I do? I was selected as one of five summer interns for the greatest school district I've ever known…..USD 453! By the way, I have attended seven different school districts from Kindergarten to graduation. In early Spring, USD 453's Public Relations and Family Engagement Department offered an on-the-job learning experience for Leavenworth juniors and seniors who were interested in pursuing a career in a Communications-related field. After a rather lengthy application and interview process, five of us received notice that we would be part of a team with one unique advantage, we all knew each other from attending high school together. We arrived ready to enhance our communications skills, learn more about the behind-the-scenes work of the school district, and share our Pioneer Pride throughout the Leavenworth community. There's no doubt in my mind that the five of us are leaving the summer with more personal fulfillment of experience than we ever initially imagined.
    Right out of the gate we were given tasks from our higher-ups and trusted with valuable equipment and information, we definitely felt that the pressure was on to deliver. From our very first team meeting where we shared ideas, hopes and dreams, we knew we would be extremely busy for the duration of the summer. Our superiors communicated specific tasks and outcomes, which we were happy to complete, but we were especially passionate about ideas that we had to share from our student perspective. One of our main focuses was developing a video version of the high school's course catalog. After weeks of filming and editing, we've achieved this goal and are proud to have our work available on-line.
    We made it our mission to enhance USD 453's social media presence through all of the district's communication channels. We started a "Question of the Day" on the district Facebook and Twitter page, which asked everything from Leavenworth history to our followers' favorite joke. We also created a district YouTube page to house video content from all Leavenworth Schools.
    Last summer was the first that this unique internship was offered and we made it our purpose to build upon their efforts and advance the program. The interns of 2012 planned the "Rock En-Roll" outdoor concert that we used as inspiration for our enrollment extravaganza event, "Pioneer Palooza." This event was part activities fair, a showcase of student clubs and local business, and concert. Through planning Pioneer Palooza, we learned the various functions of the public relations department, in addition to more about ourselves. It was definitely the challenge of the summer to build an event from the ground floor and execute. We, the interns, participated in stakeholder meetings to seek permissions and build partnerships, secure equipment rental; promote, plan, and host the actual event. It was a true test of wits, will, and patience.
    Page 2 of 2 - I can speak for the five of us when I say that we are forever grateful to Mr. Jake Potter, Mrs. Catey Edwards and Mrs. Jenny Hurley for giving us the chance to explore our future chosen career path in a way that forced us to challenge ourselves each and every day.
    Each one of us brought something special to the group, creating a dynamic blend of talents and personalities we came to love. The two "young ones" of the bunch are rising seniors at Leavenworth High School, Mallie Rust (the graphics queen, who forced us to broaden our vocabulary) and Sara Morris (who made behind-the-scenes her kingdom). Completing the group are three 2013 LHS graduates, Austin Wells, whose passion for video was contagious. He will be attending Johnson County Community College in the fall to study Journalism. Rachel Asbury, the voice of reason and social media wizard. She will attend the University of Kansas and will be studying Journalism. Last, but not least, myself, Sydnee Cullum-Parker, the comedic relief of the bunch. I will be attending Georgia State University this fall and will also be studying Journalism. With all of that said and our projects delivered on time, I'll type "We the interns" one final time, and close the book on an unforgettable summer.
    Go Pioneers and have a great school year!!!
    Sydnee Cullum-Parker, LHS Class of 2013 was a USD 453 summer PR intern

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