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Tue, 25 Mar 2014, 14:02 PM

Route 66 Raceway and Joliet Township High School Announce Third Annual Curriculum Partnership
Courtesy of Patrick Kenny

JOLIET, Ill. --

Students from Joliet Central High School today presented social media plans for the O'Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 Nationals at Route 66 Raceway, the latest chapter in an annual curriculum partnership between the school and the race track.

Since January, students have spent classroom hours creating marketing agencies, researching demographic information, familiarizing themselves with drag racing, choosing various platforms and formulating a social media plan with the help of bi-weekly classroom visits from Route 66 employees.

"This project is a wonderful example of how our students can benefit from the experience of industry professionals who provide real-world learning opportunities," said Cheryl McCarthy, Joliet Township High School superintendent. "Mr. Riley and his students have done an outstanding job creating innovative and exciting marketing strategies that utilize 21st Century social media skills and this experience would not be possible without our continuing partnership with Route 66 Raceway and Chicagoland Speedway."

On Thursday, seven groups of students presented their plans to a panel of judges, including Superintendent McCarthy, track president Scott Paddock and Matt Cloud with Gatorade's digital marketing agency, VML. The winning group, which will be chosen next week, will implement their plan via accounts created over the next several months, while also receiving guidance and support from Route 66 Raceway. Through R.A.C.E., Route 66 Raceway's charitable entity, a $2,500 scholarship was also awarded to Chris Vergel for his work on the project. Chris maintains a 3.4 grade point average, demonstrated outstanding leadership throughout the project and wrote a 500-word essay on his involvement and learning experience. Chris has already been accepted to three universities and plans to major in business administration next fall.

"Over the past three years, the students from Joliet Township High School have produced exceptional work and what we saw today is some of their best yet," said Scott Paddock, Route 66 Raceway president. "As the professional world continues to evolve, it becomes more important than ever to provide our students hands-on business experience, and this group has certainly run with that opportunity. It also speaks to the dedication of the Joliet Township High School administration, which makes every effort in challenging their students to learn in ways extending far beyond the classroom."

In 2013, JTHS and Route 66 teamed up for the Route 66 Raceway 15th Anniversary Banner Project, which engaged students in the design, marketing and sale of eight 25-by-15 grandstand banners. Students from both Joliet Central and Joliet West designed banners, while students from Joliet Central sold them to sponsors for charity. All totaled, the partnership raised $10,000 for the Joliet Area Community Hospice, which has served Joliet since 1982. The125 students from Joliet West and Joliet Central that participated in the project voted to select the hospice as their charity of choice after learning about its mission and the service it provides the community.

The Benchmark Project began in 2012 and involved students creating and fabricating 20 benches to be sold for charity. All totaled, the partnership raised $20,000 for three community organizations. Joliet Central High School selected the G.W. Buck Boys and Girls Club as their beneficiary and presented them with $10,000; while Joliet West divided the funds raised and elected to give $5,000 to the Will County Humane Society and $5,000 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

The partnership is made possible by R.A.C.E., racing advocates for community enrichment, established in 2012 to provide support to nonprofit organizations and charitable causes while volunteering to cultivate community growth. As a Donor Advised Fund of the NASCAR Foundation, a 501 c3 charitable entity, R.A.C.E. aims to improve the quality of life for the greater Chicagoland area.

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