ITA students build towers tall and soar spirits high


On Friday, October 7, over 140  juniors and seniors, along with teachers and ITEP business partners from the International Trade Academy (ITA) at Phineas Banning High School welcomed incoming sophomores with the challenge of building the tallest tower and the call to take responsibility for their own academic and career success at the very first ITA “Earning The Right” Conference.

Traditionally, this event has been an informal party; however, this year, ITA Lead Teacher Leticia Finley and ITA Advisory Board Member Akary Busto of Lloyds TSB International traded the cake and karaoke for an afternoon of team-building activities, motivational presentations, and networking with alumni and board members.  The overall theme of the Conference was that students cannot sit back and expect things to be given to them, but must work actively to “earn the right” to partake in the many opportunities available through ITA.

The highlight of the Conference was Business Keynote Speaker, Rob Vickery, who shared his own career journey from an economically challenged upbringing in Cornwall, England to his current role as U.S. Director at Lloyds TSB International.  Vickery described both his successes and his failures along the way and challenged the students to embrace adversity and never take no for an answer. “No mission is mission impossible.”

Among the most powerful experiences available to ITA students is the opportunity for seniors to participate in the National Youth Leadership Forum (NYLF) in Washington, D.C.   For 11 years, Pasha Stevedoring & Terminals (PST) has generously sponsored this program, enabling hundreds of ITA students to experience a world far beyond Wilmington.  Nancy Perez, alumna from the Class of 2011, presented David VanWaardenburg and Peggy Barteske of Pasha with the Above and Beyond Award in recognition of their generous and continued support.

After enjoying a delicious lunch prepared by the MATCH Academy and served by ITA alumni, students and ITEP Advisory Board members participated in a team-building exercise.  Each team was given a bag of supplies with the goal of making the tallest tower out of cups and paper. But, there was a twist:  each group received a slightly different set of building supplies.  ITA teacher Marlene Mendez facilitated the discussion afterwards. “…the point was to challenge them to work with what they had.  Life isn’t fair… it’s about working with the tools you are given… it’s not about a competition, it’s about working together” said Mendez.

Attending the event as honored guests were ITEP business partners from the Port of Los Angeles, Conoco Phillips, U.S. Department of Transportation, Fast Lane Transportation, Los Angeles Harbor College, and Lloyds TSB International.  Students also had the opportunity to visit booths and speak with representatives from the United States Coast Guard, Los Angeles Harbor College, Cal State Dominguez Hills and USC.

ITEP would like to thank Rob Vickery, not only for his inspirational remarks, but also for Lloyds’ generous sponsorship, which made possible the delicious food and delightful décor.  Many thanks as well to Leticia Finley, Akary Busto, and the ITA student leaders who put together a phenomenal event that will set the tone for the rest of the Academy experience.

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Filed under Banning High School, ITA

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