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CCHS seeks community support in education contest

Published 4:21pm Monday, March 17, 2014

Chilton County High School is in the running to win one of 15 prizes in a national education contest but needs the community’s help through online voting.

CCHS is among nearly 100 schools that have entered the third annual Follett Challenge, a contest “highlighting and rewarding the most innovative schools in the world.”

Online votes will determine whether CCHS wins one of 10 “People’s Choice” awards, valued at $5,000 each in products and services.

To enter the contest, each school had to complete an online application and submit a 5-minute video, and winners of the People’s Choice video awards will be based solely on how many votes applicants receive for their videos from the public.

“We hope our community will support us by viewing our video and voting for our submission,” said Dr. Cynthia Stewart, CCHS principal, in a press release. “Participating in the Follett Challenge recognizes our educators for the great job they are doing with the limited resources they have and, should we win, reward them with resources to do more. It also will give our educators here a platform to share their innovation with other schools across the country and throughout the world.”

The CCHS video, titled “What Makes a High School,” is posted at FollettChallenge.com under the “View Entries” tab.

The link to the video is also posted on the CCHS web site, ChiltonCountyHigh.weebly.com.

CCHS students Blake Hudson, Grayson Russell, Tolliver Gilliland, Mason Easterling, Logan Easterling and Jacob Smith spearheaded the production of the video, which features many other students at the school.

“We definitely got the school largely involved,” Hudson said. “All the students really liked the video, and it sort of built the pride factor.”

Hudson said the video includes snippets about Tiger Mart, a career-prep program at CCHS that teaches students the basics of running a business and managing money and personnel.

It also highlights the school’s athletics department, the annual “Blast from the Past” performance and vocational programs available to students at the career tech center.

“We kind of tried to cover as much of the school as we could,” Hudson said.

After registering, people can cast one vote per day through April 4, when voting ends.

Votes will also play a role in which schools win four semifinalist awards worth $30,000 each and the grand prize award worth an additional $30,000.

“Not only are the public’s votes significant in the video voting portion of the contest, but they also will play a role in the overall rubric as 30 percent of each school’s final score is based on the number of votes generated for their video,” Stewart said in the release.

Fifteen total prizes will be awarded in this year’s contest.

“The school could use the money for getting some more devices in the classroom,” Hudson said. “Even more than that, we’re just trying to go wireless with everything and try to update all of the technology.”

With a total prize value of $200,000 in products and services from Follett, a global education solutions leader, the overall winner will earn a $60,000 prize, along with a celebration at the school.

The semifinalists and 10 People’s Choice award winners will be announced April 14, and the grand-prize winner will be announced May 16.

This year’s Follett Challenge will recognize semifinalist winners in four categories: elementary, middle, high school and magnet/parochial/K-12 schools.

Judging criteria for applications will include critical thinking, communication, creativity and collaboration between students and among teachers and other school staff members.

The 2013 grand-prize winners were Maplewood Richmond Heights School District in St. Louis, Mo., and Henry M. Gunn High School in Palo Alto, Calif.

People can vote each day through Facebook or email with as many separate accounts as they have.

For example, voting from three separate email accounts would count as three votes per day.

“Right now, we’re in fourth place with viewer voting,” Hudson said on Friday. “We have about 3,000 votes right now. We need people to vote with their email addresses every day.”

For more information about the Follett Challenge, visit FollettChallenge.com.

Mason Easterling said the school is also still accepting donations from the community for a future project to repave the front parking lot at CCHS.

“It just gives me even more pride in my school and in the people I go to school with, being able to see others put so much work into stuff to help CCHS,” Easterling said.

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