Berkmar to serve with $7K grant

LILBURN - Berkmar High School will use a $7,000 Georgia Learn and Serve Grant to implement three service learning projects this semester, school administrators said.

The projects will focus on what students are learning in the classroom and provide opportunities for pupils to use their knowledge and skills in serving the community and school needs, Principal Ken Johnson said.

"Students truly learn when they apply the knowledge and the skills they've been studying in school," Johnson said. "We have an opportunity here for our kids to apply their learning in the real world."

The school applied for the grant in September and officially received the money this month, Johnson said. The state Department of Education this year awarded 31 Georgia Learn and Serve Grants, which receive funding from the Corporation for National and Community Service through Learn and Serve America. Berkmar was the only Gwinnett County school to receive a grant.

One of the three projects, already under way, is the Greater Lilburn Business Expo, being produced by students in business education classes in partnership with the Lilburn Business Association and the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce. By planning the event, students gain experience in event coordination and learn about small businesses, franchises and entrepreneurship, said Lilburn Mayor Diana Preston, a part-time assistant principal at Berkmar High.

Another endeavor is a historical preservation project involving technology and video journalism classes. Students will be interviewing Lilburn-area residents about their memories of the past and designing Web pages for archived photos of the city of Lilburn. For example, Preston said, students will create an oral history of Salem Missionary Baptist Church, established in the 1800s, by video recording interviews with residents.

Additionally, students from culinary arts, business and technology, and fine arts classes are planning the Taste of Berkmar at the Jazz and Arts Festival in April. The annual event is a community arts festival featuring noted jazz ensembles, family activities and food samples from area restaurants.

Preston said the school is already making plans to reapply for the grant to continue these projects.

"It's a real win-win situation for both the students as well as the community," she said.