Sunday, April 6, 2014

Winners, winners!

Hello!  Long time no see.  I have a card I made for a man's birthday to show you.  I'll do that first, then I have a totally non-crafty brag to share, about the school district here where I live.

First, the card:

I just love this chef!  He's so proud of that little cupcake, makes me laugh.  The digi is called Special Delivery, by Di's Digi Downloads.  And the base card was cut on my CAMEO with a file from Lori Whitlock.  I put a blue liner behind it  to add color to a very simple card.

I have non-crafty news today, just something that is too exciting not to share.  If you are interested only in crafting, well, I'm sorry, but you'll have to leave me now.  I plan to be back to crafting more very soon!

I have talked before about this very small town where I live, Sunburst, Montana.  Our population here is about 350, and has been in a steady decline for a long time now.  I know it is hard to imagine how a town that small can even exist, and I have to tell you that in many ways Sunburst isn't doing very well.  Our only restaurant closed about a year ago, we haven't had a real gas station in at least 15 years, and our only grocery store will be closing at the end of this month.  (I could really cry about that!)  But in some ways Sunburst is thriving, and I think this will show you why.  It's the people who live here and in the surrounding area who keep the town going.  They are awesome in the way they support each other.  So here is the best example I know of how a community keeps itself together in spite of all the odds.

Some of you may remember that I wrote about a beloved teacher (speech therapist) being killed last May in an accident on the highway just outside of town.  That accident was caused by blowing alkali (a common substance that leaches out of the ground in many places) that caused white-out conditions just like a blizzard,  and led to a 15 car pile-up, a very unusual circumstance on a piece of broad flat freeway.  It was an awful thing and made a huge impact of the students in town since many of them had that teacher for speech services for several years.

In the fall one of the junior high teachers read about the Solve For Tomorrow science contest being held by Samsung that provided 2 tablet computers to the school for getting to a certain point with a student project.  She proposed to the 8th graders she was working with that they should investigate possible solutions to the blowing alkali problem and the kids took that idea and ran with it.  Now, you need to understand that this 8th grade class has only 5 students in it.  That is much smaller than the average class size here, probably about 15.  (Yes, if you want an individualized education, this is the place to be...)  So what they accomplished is truly amazing.

These kids worked until January on their project, coming up with several possible solutions that they felt were worth looking at.  Their teacher enlisted the help of the other 2 middle school teachers and they turned their project into a presentation.  The kids made relief maps, presentation boards, graphs, slide shows and with a teacher's help, a video.  The video was sent off to Samsung and was chosen as a finalist in the first round.  Wow, were we impressed.  They received a award of technology for the school and everyone in town cheered for them.

Their project went from there to the second and third rounds. Samsung planned to fly 1 teacher and 2 students to Austin, Texas for Round 3.  The school and the community got together and raised the money to send the other 2 teachers and 3 students along also.  They were gone 3 days, the trip of their lives for several students who had never been out of state before.  The team was chosen as the first to present and the 5 kids went onstage to explain their project.   Our team came home tired and happy, but thinking they were done with the contest.  After all, the other schools were huge compared to ours and their teams had been together for many months longer than ours, some had been working together for several years on their projects, and their teams consisted of students who were seen as gifted and talented.  Our team, being the entire class, covered the spectrum from gifted to perfectly normal.  We were all very proud and happy they had this experience.

There were two ways to win at this level.  The first was to be chosen a finalist for the presentation in Austin.  The second was a sort of "people's choice" award.  We were asked to vote for our team every day for several weeks.  We did, and we used Facebook and other media to spread the work.  Soon Sunburst alumni, who are spread all around the country and even overseas, joined in.  One thing about this town is that people are not ashamed to have come from here.  There have been doctors, lawyers, researchers, oilmen, all kinds of people who have moved on from here.  There are even Sunburst days get-togethers in places like Tuscon and Seattle.  If I hadn't lived here and seen it happening, I probably wouldn't have understood or even believed the effect that Sunburst has had on people.

To make a long story reach its end a little more quickly, I will tell you that yesterday the middle school was surprised to learn that they have received one of the final awards, based on their performance along with the results of the people's choice votes.  They had received 5566 votes!  Amazing... The students have won a trip to Washington, D.C. and for the school, $140,000 in technology.

Sunburst has a long, proud tradition of being tops in anything related to science.  Through the years our high school students have taken too many awards to count including top honors at the International Science Fair that is held every year.  The teacher who led the program for over 40 years is retired, but was replaced by a much younger teacher who has continued to lead students to prize after prize.  This is the first time a younger group has ever done anything quite like this.

I have a friend who moved here about 8 years ago from Connecticut.  She tells of bursting into tears when she first saw the town.  Now, she hates the thought that they may have to move again.  The people here really are special.  Aren't I lucky to live in a town like this?

If you would like to watch the students' short video presentation, here is the link:

If you stuck with me all the way through this, thank you.  I just had to share this amazing story with everyone.


1 comment:

  1. Your card is really cool, but the treasure of this blog post is the story that goes with it. It's ammazing that they made the finials and all got to go. I'm sure that much technology is going to make a huge difference in a school that small.


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