Senior Soft Skills Challenge Kicks Off in Downtown Indiana

High school seniors throughout Indiana County and portions of Armstrong County will be learning some different lessons in April in a unique classroom. The Indiana County Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with ARIN Intermediate Unit #28 is holding its second annual Soft Skills Challenge (SSC) for these students to enhance career-ready initiatives. 


The event is taking place in various host locations throughout Downtown Indiana; the school districts will be arriving on different days in mid-April to place the seniors in real-world activities designed to improve their essential skills. Indiana County Chamber of Commerce President Mark Hilliard says that the event is another business education partnership that will have lasting effects on the future workforce.


“We have partnered with several businesses and organizations throughout the Downtown Indiana area to create opportunities for the students to begin applying many of the essential skills that are being reinforced in the school districts and with our Indiana County READY™ program,” Hilliard commented.


Indiana County READY™ is a Chamber-led business education program in all Indiana County school districts that assesses students during the school year in the categories of reliability, work ethic, communication, respect, professionalism, and attendance. Many of these essential skills will be on display as part of the SSC, where students will interact with businesses and organizations. 


Some of the activities include; students having the opportunity to practice an elevator speech, practice critical thinking and time management, provide feedback for new initiatives at the Jimmy Stewart Museum, and visit the Indiana County Courthouse.


Stacie Isenberg, Curriculum Specialist at ARIN IU 28, says that this event creates a better opportunity for businesses to partner with students and schools without putting a strain on their human resources as well as creating more excitement for the students.


“The Soft Skills Challenge takes students to the businesses and gives them a chance to demonstrate mastery of soft skills in a practical setting,” Isenberg stated. “Our hosts have been so generous with their time, space, and knowledge and our students have provided positive feedback on the event so far.” 


Senior students from each Indiana and Armstrong County school districts will be involved in the SSC during various weekdays throughout this month. The activities involved in the program will help the students further develop leadership, communication, professionalism, financial literacy, tact/manners, critical thinking, problem-solving, and teamwork.


Businesses and organizations that are participating in the event include the Artist’s Hand Gallery, First Commonwealth Bank, Indiana County Courthouse, Indiana Borough, Indiana Regional Medical Center, Indiana Theatre, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Jimmy Stewart Museum, Renda Broadcasting, S & T Bank, and the Technology and Entrepreneurship Center.