Course becomes Public Relationships

In many classes at SNU, a “big project” entails writing a 15-page research paper, performing a detailed experiment or giving a twenty-minute speech. But in SNU’s public relations class, students are creating and carrying out a PR campaign, “Project Pencil,” to donate school supplies to low-budget, inner-city elementary schools.

“The focus of this class is to learn to do a PR campaign – to deal with publicity – through a real project,” course professor Marcia Feisal said.

“Students are creating the name, logo, press releases, media kits, and advertisements,” she said.

Sarah Ekstrom, senior, suggested the idea for “Project Pencil” to the class.

“I volunteered as a teacher’s aid at Wheeler Elementary the last two years and this year at Southern Hills Elementary,” Ekstrom said.

“While I was there I became aware of problems caused by statewide cuts in the education budget. Teachers receive hardly any funds to provide supplies for their classes, and the students’ parents often don’t have extra money to spend. I suggested the project because no one else in the class knew about the poverty in these schools,” she said.

Through the support of local businesses and SNU faculty and students, the students in the class plan to collect as many supplies as possible in early December and deliver them to the two elementary schools before Christmas.

“The harder we work, the more people will be aware of what we’re doing, which means the more supplies we can get for the kids,” Amanda Shaleen, senior, said.

“I know we can’t fix the financial problems at these schools completely, but we’re doing something, and that’s a start,” she said.

Besides getting involved in community service, the students are gaining firsthand experience in public relations.

“We’re learning how to communicate through the media to the community through television, radio broadcasts, and newspapers to promote this worthy cause,” April Bybee, junior, said.

Although the students are still working on the details of “Project Pencil,” they urge everyone to consider donating something, no matter how small.

“A pack of pencils costs maybe a dollar. This is a worthwhile endeavor because one can [easily] sacrifice less than a few dollars. Children deserve the chance to have a high quality education in the public school system. We are just trying to better their chance by giving them the means to do the schoolwork,” Bybee said.

SNU students and faculty are encouraged to turn in supplies (glue, paper, scissors, crayons, markers, etc.) to room 210 in Herrick. For more information about “Project Pencil,” contact Sarah Ekstrom at 491-8142.