Chicagoland Speedway and Joliet Township High School Students Unveil Benches Benefiting Joliet Community Organizations

Local Partnership generated $20,000 in charitable contributions and provided students with hands-on professional experience



Joliet, Ill. – May 15, 2012 – On Monday, Chicagoland Speedway and Joliet Township High School unveiled the result of a seven-month long partnership designed to provide students with hands on business experience while also benefiting local charitable organizations. This partnership, labeled The BenchMark Project, engaged students in design, construction, marketing and sales with a final result of twenty benches being produced, 10 by Joliet Central, and 10 by Joliet West. Students from both schools were on hand at Chicagoland Speedway to unveil the benches, which will be displayed for both NASCAR race weekends this year.

All totaled, the partnership raised $20,000 for three community organizations. Joliet Central High School selected the G.W. Buck Boys and Girls Club as their beneficiary and presented them with $10,000; while Joliet West divided the funds raised and elected to give $5,000 to the Will County Humane Society and $5,000 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Recipients from all three charities received their donations from student representatives Jorge Gonzalez (Joliet Central) and Alex Cap (Joliet West).

“The BenchMark Project was a terrific experience for everyone involved,” said Scott Paddock, Chicagoland Speedway and Route 66 Raceway president. “Not only did students gain valuable real-life experience in sales, business planning and project management, but they made an impact in the community. Local charities benefitted from their hard work and funds they raised from the generosity of local businesses. This project truly demonstrated how a community can come together to benefit others, and students and faculty from both Joliet Central and Joliet West should be extremely proud of what they have accomplished.”

Chicagoland Speedway provided materials, with assistance from Lincoln Electric and Northern Illinois Steel, as well as guided students throughout the project with Speedway staff members serving as mentors. The students were responsible for the design, construction and sale of the benches while local businesses provided sponsorship. The benches feature students’ art work, which showcases community and automotive themes.

Joliet Community leaders were also on hand to celebrate the accomplishments of the students, including Joliet Township High School Superintendent Cheryl McCarthy, Joliet Mayor Tom Giarrante and various members of the Joliet City Council.

In addition to the money generated for charity, Chicagoland Speedway provided $5,000 in scholarships for BenchMark Project participants, which was split between Joliet West and Joliet Central. The schools elected to divide the scholarship among 10 students, who were chosen by Joliet Township High School officials.

“I want to go into business so this project was a really big opportunity for me, because it gave me a little taste of what it will be like in the real world. Not just the high school world, but the real world,” said Gonzalez, who in addition to his involvement in the project was one of the scholarship recipients. “The scholarship from Chicagoland Speedway will go toward my post-secondary education and continue to help me grow at St. Francis University.”

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