(CNN Student News) -- June 2, 2009
Town on Standby - Explore the impact of GM's bankruptcy on one Tennessee town.
Business Building - Hear how some students are getting a jump on business careers.
Cinderella Ball - Find out how "Cinderella's Ball" fulfills some students' dreams.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Today's show goes out to Mr. Gapusan's Ancient History classes at Challenger Middle School in San Diego, California. Thanks so much for watching. I'm Carl Azuz.
First Up: Air France
AZUZ: We begin with tragic news today: the disappearance of a passenger plane. 228 people were onboard Air France flight 447 when it went off radar a little more than three hours into its eleven-hour flight. The plane took off Sunday night from an airport in Brazil. It was on its way to France. Yesterday, Air France's chief executive said the plane likely crashed into the Atlantic Ocean. Planes and ships began searching about 225 miles off the Brazilian coast Monday. This story is developing. You can get the latest at CNN.com.
AZUZ: Turning to the U.S. and an economic move we reported yesterday. As expected, General Motors filed for bankruptcy after years of losses. As part of this process, the company is making some drastic moves. GM is cutting loose more than a third of its U.S. dealerships by next year. If those dealers are forced to close, it could result in more than 100,000 job losses. A dozen GM facilities are being closed. They employ more than 20,000 workers, many of whom GM intends to lay off by the end of 2010. And three more plants are going on standby status, including one in Spring Hill, Tennessee. Sean Callebs reports on the impact of GM's bankruptcy on that town.
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SEAN CALLEBS , CNN CORRESPONDENT: Little League and General Motors: American icons. But in the community of Spring Hill, about a 45-minute drive south of Nashville, one of these could be on the way out. GM could possibly shut down, phase out or sell off this factory in Spring Hill. Among the more than 3,000 anxious employees, Johnny Miranda, who left a GM job in Van Nuys, California 16 years ago to come work at this facility.
JOHNNY MIRANDA, GM AUTO WORKER: I want to think positive, 'cause it could bring you down. It can really mess you up if you be thinking they could close it and you are going to lose your job.
CALLEBS: For years and years, this plant made Saturn vehicles. It was supposed to be the car and the business plan that breathed new life into GM by taking sales away from fuel efficient Japanese cars. Saturn didn't revolutionize the industry, and two years ago, the Spring Hill plant stopped making the Saturn and began turning out Chevys. Sunday afternoon in the park is a welcome break, a chance to play with the kids and not think about the possibility of layoffs and mounting debts. Almost everyone in Spring Hill knows someone whose job is on the line.
WILL BARNES, SPRING HILL RESIDENT: My father in law works for GM. He's worked for GM ever since the day he graduated from college. He's cut his yard five times this week because this is the level of uncertainty for him. I hate to see him in that situation.
CALLEBS: Over the last two decades, subdivision after subdivision cropped up, and the town of Spring Hill blossomed in the shadow of the Saturn plant, now called GM-Spring Hill Manufacturing. But now that GM is filing for bankruptcy protection, this plant could be sold or closed in an effort to make GM leaner and keep the company in business.
MIRANDA: It's going to hurt. No question, it'll hurt.
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AZUZ: GM is certainly not the only company struggling in the current recession. But there are some businesses that are finding success, including several that were organized and run by people your age. Fredricka Whitfield tells us about a program that helps prepare students for their eventual entry into the workforce.
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FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Despite the ailing economy, these high school students are highly optimistic about their future in the job market.
PERSON ON STREET #1: Take every opportunity that's given to you. Don't waste time.
WHITFIELD: They are a little bit more upbeat because they participated in a business-building program called the Junior Achievement Fellows, where the students are led by volunteers from various businesses.
AUDREY TREASURE, SENIOR DIRECTOR, JUNIOR ACHIEVEMENT FELLOWS: The JA Fellows Program is an intensive, evening program for high school students, and we just finished our third year of the program.
WHITFIELD: Within four months, learning the "how to" of an upstart, these young men and women created business models, selling everything from jump-drive bracelets to save computer files on your wrist, to water bottles with built in filters.
TREASURE: The students had 16 weeks to run their companies. We had 15 companies, 220 students. During that time, which is arguably the worst economic climate in the United States or in the world, our students did over $30,000 in sales as a part of the program.
WHITFIELD: As summer approaches, with many retailers folding or scaling back, the once all-but-guaranteed summer jobs teenagers used to get at malls and amusement parks have dwindled. On top of that, they are now competing with adults for these coveted spots.
PERSON ON STREET #2: I think it will definitely be competitive, what with the economy as it is nowadays.
WHITFIELD: According to a recent poll, 33% of students said there seem to be fewer jobs available now. Eighteen percent of teens said they noticed they are working alongside more adults and retirees.
PERSON ON STREET #3: I think the problem today is that kids don't have business experience, and they are trying to go out in the workforce, and especially with the recession right now, it's hard to find jobs.
WHITFIELD: This group of students feels that their management skills have given them more economic responsibility for the future.
TREASURE: The students, I think, now feel like they're more equipped to understand what's going on. They feel like because they have the experience of starting their own business and being successful, that they have more advantages than other people have. And they also feel responsible for not letting something like this happen again in the future.
WHITFIELD: Fredricka Whitfield, CNN, Atlanta.
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TOMEKA JONES, CNN STUDENT NEWS: See if you can I.D. Me! I married into royalty after meeting my future husband at a dance. Many people recognize me by my famous glass footwear. I'm one of the world's most well-known princesses. I'm Cinderella, and the moral of my story is that dreams can come true.
AZUZ: One organization's annual "Cinderella Ball" aims to make a specific dream come true for some young people: attending prom! You see, the dance is for disabled middle and high school students who often aren't able to participate in events at their own schools. But thanks to The House Inc., that dream is now a reality. Here's a look at this year's dance.
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HELEN MCCORMICK, PRESIDENT, THE HOUSE INC.: It's The House Inc.'s 4th annual Cinderella Ball. And this is about students with disabilities that don't get invited at spring time to go to their own proms.
ALEX GONZALES, 13 YEARS OLD: It's exciting. I'm excited to be here. This is my first year, so I didn't know what to expect.
MCCORMICK: The children that will be coming tonight are various disabled, with kidney, children that are literally terminally ill, children that are having disabilities of cerebral palsey, Down syndrome, autism.
JORDIN SPARKS, SINGER: I do think it's sad that there are some kids who can't go to regular prom just because there might not be the facilities to help them to be able to do this. So this event, I just think that it is so amazing that somebody is taking the time out to give them that opportunity, to give them that experience.
VICTOR PADGET, FATHER: It's special, for one thing, because being a special needs father, she can't participate in all the other activities that other normal kids her age participate in. So, when you have something like this, you want to take full advantage of it, and she's really having a nice time.
You gonna dance with me?
PADGET'S DAUGHTER: Yes.
PADGET: What are you gonna do? Shake your butt?
PADGET'S DAUGHTER: Yes!
GONZALES: For other kids like me, coming to an event like this, I think it's a great experience.
SPARKS: Even if they are faced with challenges like that, I definitely think that for this one night, it's gonna be one of those times where they can just forget about it, and they can just be kids and they can be young and just have fun.
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AZUZ: Excellent story. We only have a few shows left this school year, but you can keep up with us all summer long on Facebook. We'll be updating the official CNN Student News page while we're on break. Just search "CNN Student News official". We're even gonna have a new video up this week, which means I need to make one. So, check it out and keep checking back throughout the summer.
Before We Go
AZUZ: Before we go, a graduation double feature from Florida. This is Chandler and Taylor. They're identical twins, and like many sisters, they do a lot of stuff together: play the same sports, they have the same friends, they graduate at the top of their class. That's right, they're both valedictorians, tying for the top spot with a GPA of 4.76. They really take that twin thing seriously. They're both heading to MIT in the fall.
AZUZ: Not surprising. With those grades, the twins' acceptance to a top school really shouldn't cause any double takes. For CNN Student News, I'm Carl Azuz.