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School wins $75,000 prize for online video

Weimar Hills Charter School will use money for technology
By: By Leah Rosasco Journal Correspondent
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A local teacher had no idea that starting a video production program for students would pay off in such a big way five years later.

Under the leadership of music and drama teacher Jon Oates, Weimar Hills Charter School was awarded the grand prize worth nearly $75,000 in the Flip Your Classroom – eInstruction Classroom Makeover Contest in the 6-8 grade category. The contest was open to schools in the United States and Canada and required the submission of a music video that demonstrated the ability to effectively use technology in the classroom and collaboration between students and the teacher. The school’s video was selected as the winner out of 83 videos submitted.

“For five years our eighth graders have been making music videos as part of the end of the year presentation so when we learned that this contest required making a music video we thought, ‘We can do that,’” Oates said.

In total nearly 60 eighth grade-students participated in the making of the video, a parody of the song “Everybody Talks” by Neon Trees. Oates said that although the typical production time for a student music video is three months this group of kids had a shortened timeframe to complete the video to meet the contest deadline. The video, which is 2 minutes and 33 seconds long, took nearly two months to complete.

“We really had to work together to push and get it done but we did it,” Oates said.

Although the end product flows seamlessly from one frame to the next, Oates and his students said each segment required a lot of hard work and planning. One particular15-second scene is comprised of more than 150 photos strung together to make it appear as though a student is walking over the tops of binders.

“They really got to learn about all aspects of making a video from lighting and sound to editing and filming,” Oates said.

Students who worked on the video said they learned new skills as a result of making the video and learned to work as a team with their fellow students. Student Colby Paul said the project brought together students who might not have known each other very well before for a common goal.

“We’ve done lots of videos and lots of projects but with this one we were like ‘we gotta work together to win this thing,’” Paul said.

Eighth grader Alex St. Jacques, who sang the lead role of the teacher in the video, said working on the project reignited her love of singing, which was something she had wanted to do when she was little but said she had sort of forgotten about.

“I always wanted to be a singer but I hadn’t thought about it lately,” St. Jacques said. “Once I did this though it made me want to sing again.”

Although the grand prize includes a “technological” makeover of the school’s music and drama classroom, Weimar Hills Charter School Principal, Steve Schaumleffel said students throughout the Placer Hills Union School District will benefit from the grand prize package.

“Some of the software and equipment included in the prize package will be used by the entire district from Kindergarten through eighth grade,” Schaumleffel said.

Although he said the school has been awarded larger grants, Schaumleffel said this award is the largest that he has seen that was earned by the kids. Because the students had such a big role in winning the software and upgrades, he said, it is very exciting for them.

“It’s more than a grant,” Schaumleffel said. “It’s kind of like winning the lottery.”