SANTA CLARA – The Sept. 11, 2012, flood of Santa Clara devastated many in the community, washing away their homes, businesses and sense of security. But Becky Scano, a special education teacher at Snow Canyon High School, and her students transformed that unfortunate day into a once-in-a-lifetime inspiration that would represent their school and Southern Utah on a national level. Now in the final running for a $110,000 technology grant, community support through online voting is needed.
The contest application
When Scano first learned about the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow video contest, part of an educational initiative that has awarded millions of dollars to schools across the country to promote the use of science, technology, engineering and math in classrooms, she thought it would be an opportunity to acquire some much-needed computers for the severe special education classroom.
But she lacked an original catalyst to make a science-focused video that would stand out from the more than 1,600 other entries, some of which were submitted by advanced placement science and math students.
In the aftermath of the flood, it came to her. She composed an essay detailing her students’ plans to research the environmental impacts of the flood and the great importance of technology in not only special education, but all classrooms. The essay advanced Snow Canyon past the first cut and they received $1,200 worth of computer and video equipment.
Making the video
Making the video was a monumental project, one the likes of which Scano’s students have never attempted before. They filmed and edited the video, wrote the script and even re-created the breaching of the dam, with the help of only Scano, a special education teacher and aide, science teacher Robert Lancaster and Santa Clara Mayor Rick Rosenberg.
“Most of the people who worked on the video didn’t know much about video work when we started, but we all came together and did a great job,” Adali Vernon Anderson, 16, said.
Even before submitting their application, Scano knew that participating in the contest would be a daunting task for both herself and her class.
“I was so worried about competing against students and teachers who know a lot more than I do about science and technology, and the fact that the entire school would be depending on me,” she said. “The last two months have been a roller coaster ride.”
Chosen as a finalist
The challenge only made victory sweeter. Scano was in the middle of a class when the email announcing Snow Canyon as one of 15 finalists arrived. Overcome with excitement, she had to ask a student to finish reading it to the class. Then they all ran, screaming, to the office of Principal Warren Brooks to share the good news.
By being selected as a finalist, Snow Canyon has earned $40,000 worth of technology from Samsung, Adobe and DirecTV. The prize has not yet been put to use, nor has it been determined which departments will benefit, though special education and science are likely candidates.
“It is a great accomplishment for our school to get better equipment so that students can learn and understand more,” Anderson said. “It gives me satisfaction, people know I helped them get this new equipment.”
The last stretch to the win: Online voting
Snow Canyon is now in the running for an additional $110,000 technology grant – and an invitation to the awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. – which will be given to each of the top five schools only. A judging panel will decide four of the five winners, and the fifth will be “community choice” via online vote. Voting is open through March 4 and can be done on the contest website.
The contest is designed to gather local support and Lancaster said it’s up to the community to get involved.
“We need people to get online and vote every day,” she said.
“Winning will help my students so much and will be an amazing benefit to Snow Canyon,” Scano said. “The money will be used for each and every one of our students and teachers.”
The special students of Snow Canyon
The members of Scano’s class are mild to moderate special education students with disabilities ranging from autism to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and dyslexia. Many have difficulty connecting with fellow students and receive little recognition for their less-than-stellar academics. But life as they knew it has changed drastically in the past few weeks.
“My students have come alive,” Scano said. “Students who have rarely succeeded at anything are now walking proudly around our school, they have accomplished something wonderful. People stop them in the hall and say, ‘Hey, aren’t you in the school video?’ They’re smiling.”
“I’d be so happy if we won,” Scotti Sheridan, 16, said. “Please vote for Snow Canyon.”
Watch the Snow Canyon High School video entry, then follow the link below to cast your vote
Click to VOTE for Snow Canyon High School: Samsung Solve for Tomorrow
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