CHEROKEE, KAN. – Car washes and selling food are common fundraisers for student organizations. This Saturday the Southeast TSA is going to try something a little different. But when you’re a group that hasn’t been around very long and a lot of people have never heard of you, to stand out sometimes you have to do things a little differently.
The Southeast TSA is hosting a Cold Weather Car Wash and Chili Feed at Southeast High School on Saturday December 12, 2015 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The idea is simple: Most car washes are held during the Fall and Spring, when most cars are dirty but not that dirty. By having a car wash in December, when cars can be pretty nasty, it’s not only a fundraiser for Southeast TSA, it’s also a community service to help those who are unable to wash their cars this time of year.
For $5 the students will wash your car. For $5 you can come into the SHS cafeteria and have a bowl of chili – and stay warm and watch whatever football game is on. Or you can get the deal – both the car wash and chili – for only $8.
“It’s going to be a big hit,” says Southeast senior Caleb Thompson.
TSA stands for Technology Student Association and is geared towards enhancing students interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. At Southeast, TSA has found a niche in video editing. Gage Fox and Quinton Tyree qualified for nationals in 2012-13; Bryce Blockburger, Nick Junior, Ryan Thomas and Caleb Thompson qualified in 2013-14; and, Jake Burns, Bryson Spahn, Kyler Spahn, Ryan Thomas, and Thompson qualified in 2014-15.
“Along with winning, we’re trying to use the Cold Weather Car Wash as something that is sort of a tradition,” says Southeast TSA advisor Brad Coots. “One of the advantages that bigger groups like FFA have over us is that they have a tradition of parents saying ‘yeah I was in FFA, you should be involved’. Since this is only our fourth year we don’t have that tradition. The way we get that tradition is with the upperclassmen – this group of seniors especially – telling the younger kids ‘this is something that’s fun and you should be involved in it. You get a chance to win and go on these trips.’ So the Car Wash and hanging out together is another part of that. We’re trying to create our own annual tradition for a fundraiser that is both fun and helps us fund our ‘adventures’ so to speak.”
The “adventures” of Southeast TSA are primarily competitive – the Great Gorilla Games at Pittsburg State University, the annual State TSA competition, the annual National TSA competition, and the Media Showcase at Missouri Southern State University.
The MSSU Media Showcase was held earlier in December and Southeast High School came away the Sweepstakes Winner for Video, despite competing against schools with more students competing and more resources. Led by senior Bryson Spahn, who had three first place finishes, Southeast had more overall points than every other school competing, including Joplin High School.
Spahn took 1st place in Four Lines of Dialogue, Epic Movie Trailer and 5 Second Video, took 3rd place in Comedy and Drama, and a project by Spahn and Thompson also took 2nd place in 5 Second Video.
“It looks like my best received stuff is funny and weird at the same time – that’s pretty much what I do,” Spahn said.
Thompson also tied for 3rd in Commercial/PSA and a project by he and senior Colton Paasch took 3rd place in Four Lines of Dialogue
Mr. Coots said the MSSU Media Showcase limited entries to around 40 total videos per school. So while larger schools likely submitted videos by only juniors and seniors, with smaller class sizes, he said Southeast has a different approach.
“Probably a third of our videos were stuff that freshman and sophomores have done just as they were learning to do it in class – we sent in their videos because, well, why not?” Mr. Coots said. “If it’s something good I’ll send it in. We’re not picking favorites. We just want to win.”
With the Media Showcase done, the next competition is the Gorilla Games, then the State competition with qualifiers going on to Nationals in Nashville, Tennessee. This year’s theme is fitting – “Building a Legacy” – because that is exactly what Thompson and Spahn are trying to do at Southeast, where they are the TSA chapter president and vice president respectively.
Outside of Mr. Coots’ tech room, the two don’t have a lot in common. Thompson plays basketball and baseball, and is a member of the Southeast FFA. Spahn plays trombone for the Marching Band and Jazz Band.
But during eighth hour Video Production they are working to build on what the students before them have done and are working to generate interest among the next group of students. That includes Bryson’s younger brother, Kyler, a sophomore at Southeast.
“I’ve been trying to help out with the sophomore group we have now because they show a lot of potential and I’m trying to help cultivate them so that hopefully they’ll pass it down to some other lower classmen later on,” Bryson Spahn said. “We are kind of intentionally putting all the sophomores on their own so that they can get their sea legs.”
“Last year Bryson worked with Kyler and Jake Burns,” Thompson says. “This year Bryson and I are actually going to work together at State and have the sophomores – Jake, Kyler and maybe Dylan Wilson – work together so that they can kind of spread their wings a bit and try to grasp onto some of the accomplishments we’ve had in the past. Hopefully it builds from there.”
“I think it’s pretty fun to do – a lot of people make videos and post them online these days, and here you just learn how to do that kind of thing and do it well,” Bryson Spahn said.
“I think the more successful we are the more people want to be part of a winning atmosphere,” Thompson said. “That helps too.”
Mr. Coots said that this generation of students has grown up with technology. While some students like making videos for fun on their iPads, others have wanted to use cameras that are going to produce better shots.
“Some of our seniors that have edited a lot of videos notice where somebody has enhanced the color on the video or they exported the video wrong – it’s grainy – stuff like that – some people are interested in that and for some people it’s a little too in depth for them,” Mr. Coots said. “They’re in a generation where technology is something that’s in their hands every day and they’re interested in. It’s one of those things that they’re exposed to all the time and so they’re good at it and naturally interested in. So if you can compete in something you’re interested in that makes it easier and more likely you’re going to do good at that.”
Thompson plans to attend Pittsburg State and has a variety of technology interests so he isn’t quite sure yet the specific direction he’s going to go. Spahn, however, has already decided to attend the University of Kansas where he will major in Film and Media Studies.
“So basically, what I do now will be on more of a professional level,” Spahn said. “It’s my favorite thing to do.”
“We appreciate all of the community support we have received in our short time as a club, especially from Craw-Kan,” Mr. Coots added.
The Cold Weather Car Wash and Chili Feed hosted by Southeast TSA will be held Saturday December 12 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Southeast High School, weather permitting. Mr. Coots said if it is too rainy and cold, they will reschedule for a later date.
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