Name changes, quality stays the same

Taylor Pardue Staff Reporter

September 26, 2013

If you think you don’t know what Skills USA is, you’re wrong.

After including the title in its name in 1999, VICA, the popular automotive and technical club for high schoolers, dropped the VICA acronym altogether a few years later.

Skills USA is still the same program though, as is the annual fruit sale from Starmount’s club.

Kim Spillman, the carpentry teacher for Starmount High, said the name change had caused a lot of confusion in the community.

“Many people in the community and former students may not recognize that we are the same organization, but we still help students in the same manner as years passed,” Spillman said. “For several years we have seen our fruit sales drop and we are trying to help this situation by making the public aware that the name changed, not the spirit of our organization.”

Even the name of the classes has been changed. Once upon a time they were called vocational classes: now, through a series of name changes, they are known as CTE courses - career and technical education.

Boxes of citrus fruits, pink and red grapefruits, juice oranges and tangelos run $27 for a four-fifths full box and $17 for a two-fifths full box.

A mixed box of the fruit costs $21.

The prices are reflective of the growers in Florida. Hurricanes and increased fuel prices have led the growers to increase the wholesale price for several years, but Skills USA was able to absorb the cost up until this year.

While the prices are slightly higher than they have been, Spillman said the club kept them as low as possible for the community.

Though participation has waned the sale has continued each year. This 2013-14 school year sale will be the 37th consecutive year of the event.

“Each year the student organization [VICA, now Skills USA] would sell citrus fruit to the local communities to raise money,” Spillman said. “This money was used for the students to attend events locally or at the state level.”

The benefits go beyond Skills USA activities. The money is used in a number of generous ways.

Sometimes money is anonymously given to students in need via their lunch accounts, insuring students who may not be able to afford it are able to eat for several days.

Other situations include Austin Macemore and Meme Brown’s battles with cancer, as well as Christian Hurt’s medical troubles.

And it’s not just for select students.

“Any student, let’s say they go through a house fire, a death in the family, whatever, Skills USA will do something for them,” Spillman said. He said the relationship between the club and the community is strong both ways, with each helping the other.

The club, whatever the name, has made an impact on Starmount and those around it through the sale.

The fruit sale began with club sponsors Leonard Groce and Robert Williams. Since then numerous teachers have stepped up to help the club sell citrus, including Robert Hall, Dan Bray, Roy Faw, Michael Wall, Bob Woollard, Nicky Wagoner, Danny Wilson and Brian Mills.

Three faculty now head up the program: Spillman, Sandy Martin and Mike Howell.

Sales start Oct. 11. Those interested can contact the main office at Starmount High and ask for either Spillman, Martin or Howell for further assistance.

Students in the club will also be contacting people in their neighborhoods to sell the fruit.

To contact Taylor Pardue call 336-835-1513 ext. 15, or email him at tpardue@civitasmedia.com.