A group of 12th graders at Richmond Senior High are battling to implement a new program at the school that could help other students graduate.
If the students can collect enough votes to win $5,000 in the Institute for Emerging Issues video contest, they plan to use the funds as start-up money for a program to benefit other students for years to come.
Jennifer Byrd’s honors U.S. Government class submitted a proposal to enter a contest with the Institute, and was chosen as one of five finalists out of 50 entries from around the state.
“This year’s contest challenge was to come up with an idea on how to decrease North Carolina dropout rates,” said Byrd.
The idea that landed the class in the finalist category was to create a “Studio Lounge” at the school (studio means study in Latin).
“The idea is to create a class where students tutor students,” said Byrd. “It will be a full length class, offered all semester and open to any student who needs extra help with any subject. Both the tutors and the students participating will get an elective credit for the class.”
Byrd said her students came up with the idea to address the obstacles that face many students once the school day ends.
“A lot of students have to get on the bus, go to sports practice or go to work when school’s out,” said Byrd. “Not everyone is able to stay at school for extra help at the end of the day and their grades are suffering because of it. Offering support during the school day for a sufficient amount of time could be a real solution.”
Byrd’s class is enthusiastic about the prospect of making a difference.
“We want to help motivate others to achieve what they need to do in order to graduate,” said Shelby McCormick. “We’re already talking to juniors about the project to get them on board with either signing up for the class or to be tutors.”
Principal Cory Satterfield is supporting the group’s vision by offering up an empty room the group can transform into a study room if they win.
“If we win, we’ll use the prize money for paint, desks, chairs and computers for the room,” said Byrd.
To ensure that the prize money is used in line with the winner’s goals, the Institute requires that periodic progress reports are sent in, along with accounts of how the funds are being used.
“I think their project deserves to win because it’s realistic, logical and relatively inexpensive to maintain over the long term,” said Byrd. “I believe if we can implement their idea, it’s something that will serve the needs of students for years to come.”
The students elected six peers from the group to serve as “Generation Z” ambassadors at an Emerging Issues forum in Raleigh. Students have already won $1,000 in the competition, and will be using that money to fund the trip to Raleigh.
The final step in the process will be when the group posts their video creation, in hopes of garnering enough votes to win the prize money.
“I think we’re going to pull this off,” said student Andrew Wright. “If the students will sign up for the help, I know this is something that will increase their averages because one-on-one help can make a real difference.”
The students’ video, along with four competing schools, will be posted on Jan. 30 and voting will run through Feb. 6 at 5 p.m.
To vote for Richmond Senior High School, go to http://www.ncsu.edu/iei/index.php/news-events/emerging-issues-prize-for-innovation between Jan. 30 and Feb. 6 and register to vote. A brief synopsis from each school is posted on the website at this time.
— Staff Writer Kelli Easterling can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at email@example.com.