Smaller schools win big prizes in the STF Student Project video promotion
PRINCE ALBERT – Good things come in small packages when one contemplates the respective winners of The Student Project sponsored by the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation.
Wesmor Public High School in Prince Albert won the $10,000 grand prize. Meanwhile, in a close contest with Val Marie School, the $7,500 gold star prize for the school with the most views of their video was Eaton School in Eatonia.
Wesmor teacher Colette Daelick, who said she’s usually bad luck when it comes to random draws, had spent the last few days prior to the cheque presentation trying to keep it a secret from staff and students alike.
She gathered everyone for the presentation under the premise of it being part of the school’s Pride (LGBTQ) celebrations. However, when she divulged the actual reason for the gathering, there was a whole other sense of pride as the students reacted with predictable excitement as STF President Patrick Maze presented the cheque.
According to Daelick, the school will now embark on a student survey to see how to spend the windfall, although she suggested it would find a home in one of three areas: culture, comfort or education.
The school of just more than 300 students, 95 percent of whom are First Nations and Métis, is not that well known, and according to Daelick, “we are for sure overshadowed by larger schools, and lots of people don’t know we exist.
“We have all kinds of kids here, and for quite a few of them we might be their second or third shot at education. If you ask the kids, they know as a staff we have their back. It’s all about relationships and pride. I would say this is a school with a positive school culture and we’re a family. For some of our kids, they have experienced the ‘us versus them’ situation in other schools, but that’s not here.”
Daelick indicated the adoption of the flexible five-block system has been particularly beneficial and she cited it as one of the key reasons for the strides made in terms of improving academic success and graduation rates.
“If I was asked to describe our students in one word, it would be perseverance for many of them. As a staff, we try to be innovative and find ways to help the students and help them have a real choice for their future. We have raised the bar. Our forte is a graduation focus, but realizing that not everyone is going to get there on time and not everyone can take that path.”
Daelick indicated that, ironically, things had conspired against the students doing their annual promotional video for the school. However, then when sitting at home and checking out Facebook, she came upon the STF initiative. “That made my decision for me right then and there, and I guess it was meant to be,” she chuckled.
Lisa King, principal at Eaton School, suggested the project was a perfect example of how small-town pride played a significant role in amassing 13,000 plus views of the video, which included pretty much the entire school population of 130 at the K-12 school.
“It was a nice surprise and a great way to end the school year. I’m so proud of all the work and the passion that everyone put into making this possible. It was an awesome project and it really helped build school culture and a sense of pride.
“Right from the start everyone pitched in, and it was such a positive experience that extended right to the community as well in terms of engagement. It says a lot when two small-town schools like ours and Val Marie were neck and neck. Our kids were pretty excited when we shared the news,” King said.
According to King, this was another example of students and staff pulling together, particularly in the closing stages when it was critical to have as many views as possible. She highlighted the efforts of music teacher Melissa Hynd and educational assistant Julie Nunweiler for their artistic flair, as well as senior students Nichole Bredy and Alisha Vannest, who she indicated were a perfect example of the mentorship program the school takes such pride in.
“It’s not just at the school – we have an active alumni in terms of Facebook. For a lot of our parents it’s how they keep tabs on what is happening in their kids’ classrooms,” she said.
It also helped that parents with expertise in the area of photography and audiovisual chipped in.
King has been at the school for 20 years, but this is her first year as an administrator. “I couldn’t be happier than to end the school year on such a high note and to see all the creativity and collaboration. I was just really thankful to have had the opportunity to share in this, and I hope it will be a stepping stone for our school and community.”
The month-long competition drew 36 entries from throughout the province.