Elementary school vies for $60,000 in resources





Fourth graders Johnny Guerrero and Tyler May both think Edith Scheuerman Elementary School is the best in the nation. And they're really hoping you'll agree with them. That's because their school is in a contest against other schools across the nation that could pay out as much as $60,000 in books and other school resources.

The grade school is competing in The Follett Challenge, being sponsored by book distributor Follett. A video on the website, www.follettchallenge.com, already has garnered 595 votes. Voting started Friday and, as of Tuesday, the school was in 16th place — quite an accomplishment in and of itself, given it is competing against 103 other schools.

Voting is open until April 4. People can go to www.follettchallenge.com and cast one vote per day until then. Only one vote is allowed per email address per person per day.

Four semifinalists — one for each of the following grade levels: elementary; middle; high school, and K12 and parochial — will be announced April 14 and will win $30,000. Winners will choose products and services offered from Follett School Solutions, Follett's K12 divisions. Ten other prizes being given away, valued at $5,000 each, are from the "People's Choice" category and will be based solely on how many votes applicants have received for their videos. The grand prize winner, chosen from the semifinalists, will be announced on May 16 and receive an additional $30,000 in products and services.

Seventy percent of each school's score will be based on the judges' opinion of the entry. The remaining 30 percent of the final score is based on the number of votes generated for the school's video. The winning schools will ultimately be those that aggressively spread the word about their programs.

Sandy Almos, principal at Edith Scheuerman, said they have been spreading the word through social media, word-of-mouth and through some of the school's partners in education, including First National Bank, RSVP, United Way and Lee Richardson Zoo.

Students like Guerrero and May were spreading the word as well. They believe their school should win because it's the best.

"And so we can get a lot more books that we can read," May added.

To even be in the running, the school had to first be chosen based on the merits of its video and a written application. According to a press release from Follett, the judges sought applications that illustrated critical thinking, communication, creativity and collaboration between students and among teachers and other members of the school staff.

The school's application highlighted some of its more innovative programs, including: the school's bank, which teaches kids about managing money; the school's own kid-run post office; and its recycling program. In addition to the application, the school submitted a four-minute video, posted on www.follettchallenge.com, along with the other schools that entered the contest.

The theme of the Edith Scheuerman video is from the Dr. Seuss Book, "The Places You'll Go," and is a slide show of fourth-grade students taking a tour of the future educational institutions they will attend.

"We took them by Bernadine Sitts Intermediate Center, and then we went to Horace Good Middle School because most of them will go there after that. And then we drove around the high school and talked to them about the fact that from that point on, they can decide where they want to go," Almos said.

Following that, the students were taken to Garden City Community College, where they were given tours and demonstrations of criminal justice, cosmetology, agriculture, nursing and art.

Guerrero really enjoyed the experience.

"I think I loved it because I got to learn how people use their imaginations in things they want to express, like their feelings," he said, adding that he wants to be an artist when he grows up. "I want to be a person who can express their feelings on sculptures or put paintings wherever they want."

Almos said much of what the school does is aimed at steering the kids in the direction of either college or career.

"We talked about career because not everybody is college-bound, but they're definitely career-bound, so we wanted them to have a good idea on how to get there," Almos said.

She said they also explain to students the importance of making good decisions now.

"We talked about things like staying drug-free, keeping their grades up and, even though they're fourth graders, they realized that it doesn't just happen when they become high school seniors. It starts now, making those good decisions."

All of these approaches were either highlighted in the application or video entered into The Follet Challenge.

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