Students give historical society an early holiday gift

12/16/2016 2:42:16 PM

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AITP Service Project

Pictured, left to right, St. Clair County Historical Society Curator William P. Shannon IV: club president Brion Hopson of Maryville; Dock Wells of O’Fallon; club vice president Nathaniel Stripeik of Belleville; Lia Baratti of Collinsville; Alex Rice of O’Fallon; sponsor Lawrence Appelbaum; Zach Schaffer of Millstadt and Joshua Monroe of Belleville.

The holidays came early this year for the St. Clair County Historical Society courtesy of the Southwestern Illinois College Association of Information Technology Professionals student organization.

On the historical society’s wish list was a new website. That is now a reality thanks to the student group taking on the redesign as a service project. The new site is now up and running at

While volunteering at the museum in February, club vice president Nathaniel Stripeik of Belleville discovered STCCHS was ready for a website redesign. Wanting to help, he proposed to AITP club members that they do the work as a service project. AITP is an international society of professionals in information technology. SWIC’s student chapter is open to all students, but is primarily focused on Computer Information Systems-related majors. Members receive opportunities to interact with professionals and explore career possibilities, network and stay abreast of industry trends.

 “My goal as club sponsor is to facilitate projects for students to gain real-world experience that will get them a well-paying career,” said Assistant Professor of Computer Information Systems Lawrence Appelbaum. “I thought it was a good opportunity to do a quality website for a real organization. It was something the students could put on their résumés. That’s a big deal for students coming right out of school.”  

The redesign offers more ways for the public to interact with STCCHS through the site. People can purchase items, become members and have at their fingertips everything they will need to plan a visit, according to Curator William P. Shannon IV.

“These folks [the students] took it and ran with it and totally knocked it out of the park,” he said. “Our board could not be more pleased with the results.”

For Shannon, it was a win-win situation. Helping emerging professionals develop their skills and craft was something that the STCCHS board could get behind because of its commitment to educational programming.

Stripeik and club president Brion Hopson of Maryville actively coordinated communications with the society and oversaw the day-to-day operations of the project. They were responsible for personnel, scheduling, site analysis, design, implementation, integration and testing. Both say their involvement in the project helped build management skills in addition to technical skills needed to get website applications working.

Team members Zach Schaffer of Millstadt, Lia Baratti of Collinsville, Alex Rice and Dock Wells of O’Fallon, and Joshua Monroe of Belleville all agree they learned quite a bit from working on the project as well. Participating in the project was a great opportunity to get real-world experience.

The project put the students in a position to collaborate and learn new skills from each other. That support gave them more confidence in their abilities. That encouraged them to explore and learn new techniques on their own, as well as tackle other academic classes in their program.

“Partnerships like this – where the students used their skills to help the historical society better serve the public – build communities,” Shannon notes. “We are truly grateful to the students and Lawrence for their work on behalf of the historical society.”

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