Richmond Senior High School students won a contest that could allow them to forever change the curriculum at the school.
A group of seniors in Jennifer Byrd’s honors U.S. History class entered a contest to win a cash prize that will provide them with enough start-up money to create a new class at the school, with the sole purpose of decreasing dropout rates.
Byrd announced Wednesday that, thanks to voters who went online to support the students’ idea, the group won a $5,000 prize that will enable them to purchase computers, desks, paint and other supplies to turn an unused classroom into a “Studio Lounge.”
“We were so excited to find out that we won,” said Byrd. “The students got over 12,000 votes for their video, and that would not have been possible without the support from their community.”
Byrd said she doesn’t know yet when they will receive the money, but is already in talks with Principal Cory Satterfield to get the ball rolling for the new class.
“This has been kind of a whirlwind experience,” said Satterfield. “We are now in the process of trying to figure out which students really need this class. This will involve input from teachers and counselors, to make sure the kids who need tutoring can get it.”
Satterfield said he stands behind his word, and has every intention of offering a new class based on the concept designed by the honor students.
“It’s my job to help students graduate and prepare them for the next step in life,” he said. “I am open to ideas that will help students achieve these goals, and I believe this idea was a great one.”
Satterfield said his goal is to be able to offer the new class next school year.
The student’s project, which was entered into a statewide competition through the Institute for Emerging Issues, targeted the problem of reducing dropout rates.
The winning idea proposed that a new class should be created which will allow students to tutor other students. As a full-length class, with elective credits for everyone involved, Byrd said the situation would be win-win.
“The students who qualify to tutor gain added practice, it will look great on their transcripts and they get the added bonus of knowing that they’re giving something back to fellow students who need a hand,” said Byrd. “The students who sign up to be tutored will get more individualized help working through the subjects they’re having difficulty with. There are too many students who can slip through the cracks because they have to get on a bus and can’t stay after school for tutoring. We hope that offering a class will motivate them to get extra help.”
Byrd said she believes in the students’ idea, and sees it as realistic and sustainable — something that could one day be offered at schools around the state.
— Staff Writer Kelli Easterling can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.