Salt Creek schools-hotel partnership provides experiences for students
Stella May Swartz Elementary School fourth-graders Alessia Pesce and Ryan Howard vacuum at the hotel during career day, as Steven Kalapsa, food and beverage manager; and Suzanne Ziarko, director of human resources, watch. | Chuck Fieldman—Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 28, 2013 1:58AM
OAKBROOK TERRACE — The partnership between Stella May Swartz Elementary School and Hilton Hotels of Chicago/Oak Brook continues to provide fun learning opportunities for students.
The Salt Creek Elementary District 48 school, and Hilton Suites and Hilton Garden Inn go back about nine years in the partnership. The idea came from Don Hill, director of sales and marketing for Hilton Hotels of Chicago/Oak Brook.
“I have my own kids, and I thought this was something that made sense,” Hill said. “It’s great to partner up with schools for community work.”
The partnership included the Nov. 11-17 Global Week of Service. December will bring the ninth annual greeting card contest for students, and the past seven springs have included a gardening/school beautification event at Swartz.
The Global Week of Service included a Nov. 12 second annual career day at Hilton Suites during which about 60 fourth-graders got a hands-on look at various jobs at the hotel.
Students also were at Hilton Suites Nov. 15 for a “Fountain Coin Clean-Up.” During that activity, students went into the hotel fountain to clean out coins that had been thrown in. The proceeds benefit the school’s Earth Savers Club.
While at the career fair, students had the opportunity to experience the likes of helping to vacuum the lobby area, setting dining room tables, making telephone calls to clients, and baking cookies in food service.
Students also had a chat with Brian Kasper, the hotel’s director of finance, who showed them a $20,000-plus check that had just come in the mail from the Disney Company to pay for rooms and services used recently.
“This really does allow the students a chance to see how things operate here,” Kasper said. “I emphasize the math with them, but we do it in a fun context.”
Swartz Principal Angie Ross said the career fair offers students several great opportunities.
“It allows our students to see some different careers that are right outside of their back yard,” Ross said. “They know of the Hilton, but this allowed them to see how it works, behind the scenes. Being able to have a hands-on experience is great because it’s fun for them, and they’re able to learn.”
Participating students didn’t seem to mind being put to work as part of the experience.
“It’s fun because we learn about how things work,” Alessia Pesce said. “I’ve been here before, but this was the best time because we got to see so many things.”
Classmate Ryan Howard agreed.
“I liked housekeeping the best,” he said. “It was fun to visit all the rooms.”