Thursday, October 22, 2009
Holly High first to get ambassador initiative
By SUE WATSON
There is a new wind ablowing in Marshall County and Holly Springs. That wind is blowing on the youth of our county with hopes to turn a flicker into a flame where today’s youth will become tomorrow’s builders.
Amy Heaton, executive director of the Holly Springs Chamber of Commerce, is working with the Holly Springs School District to produce a new crop of youngsters who will know more about their city and county and become ambassadors for this historic community.
The first of regular monthly meetings with youth in the marketing and business classes at Holly Springs High School, the Junior Ambassadors program was introduced to members of the DECA Club and the FBLA Club last week through cooperation with teachers Mary Ann Arouna, marketing, and Felicia Harvell, business and computer technology.
The first meeting with Heaton focused on an overview of organizations in Holly Springs and their functions.
The youth learned that the Marshall County Industrial Development Authority is responsible for getting big business to come to Holly Springs, as well as playing a role in getting transportation improvements like future I-22 and I-69 and upgrades at the airport.
“These business conveniences attract people to visit, spend time here, move here, and stay here,” Heaton said. “If they stop or they stay, either way, we earn a little bit.”
Holly Springs Main Street Program, another example, promotes downtown businesses by keeping the district clean and attractive for visitors and shoppers.
“Main Street will make people want to come to the Holly Springs square,” Heaton said.
Holly Springs Tourism and Recreation Bureau promotes Holly Springs as a place to visit and when visitors come it creates business and jobs.
Heaton said at age 38 she didn’t plan to stay in the area, but at age 40 her mind was changed because of what she learned.
“I want you to be proud of where you came from and to make sure you know what I didn’t know,” she said. “It’s a big ole world out there and this is a small, small place. I want you to know where you come from and where you've been.
“This is a special place with a lot of history and lots of opportunities. I want you to know and to tell others what a special place this is. You might decide to come back home, build a house, start a business, start a family and send your kids to school here. That’s what keeps our town alive.”
In future monthly meetings, the Junior Ambassadors will learn much more about the city, its roots, its history, and its present day offerings. As a part of the program incentives, the Chamber of Commerce plans to hand out four awards at the end of the program based on students’ involvement in certain projects. Students will earn points by selling $5 raffle tickets, and at the end of the year the students with the most points will win awards. The public is encouraged to purchase tickets from these Jr. Ambassadors to help raise funds for the project.
In break-out workshops, students learned trivia:
Harvell said the Jr. Ambassador program will provide good training for her students for community service.
Arouna, a natural born citizen of Holly Springs who has worked at the World Bank in Washington, D.C., eleven years and for the Federal Emergency Management Agency for four years in the District, has high hopes for the Jr. Ambassador’s project.
“As a marketing instructor, I am thrilled to have Ms. Heaton as our guest speaker,” she said. “I believe her new program, the Jr. Ambassadors, will give our students hope and implant a different perspective about our city...which is our nation’s best kept secret.
“I am definitely thrilled that Ms. Heaton has taken this new initiative and our school was selected to be a pilot.”
Heaton said Kecia Dowden, counselor at the high school, was partly responsible for bringing the program to the school. She asked Heaton how students could be involved and did not know Heaton was working on the idea.
Heaton said the Chambers of Commerce have an adult ambassadors program and that she adapted the ideas in the program for use in this Junior Ambassadors project at Holly Springs High School.
Thirty-five students are being offered the program.
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