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May 30, 2014

Frozen no more

Northwest Elementary wins contest, will receive $25,000 in technology upgradesjamm

Christie Ross doesn’t have stage fright.

Ross, a third-grade teacher at Northwest Elementary School, was involved in theater in high school and performed in productions throughout college. So she was quite accustomed to being in front of an audience.

But she was apprehensive when asked to star in front of a worldwide audience online, singing and performing a parody of the hit song “Let It Go” from Disney’s “Frozen” for a nationwide contest to receive a technology grant for the school.

“When they first asked me to do the video, they didn’t explain that it was going to be posted on YouTube,” Ross said. “In the beginning, no one explained to me that it was a voting process. Not only would it be on YouTube, but people would be watching and voting on it. I was absolutely terrified. YouTube is much scarier than a competition, even with judges sitting in front of you I’ve discovered it is far more frightening to have your face plastered all over YouTube.”

Despite the nerves, Ross and her co-stars — students at Northwest Elementary — produced the winning video in the NEC Display Solutions Tech Makeover. The school won $25,000 worth of NEC products including large screen displays and projectors for classrooms. The video beat out nine other finalists with 3,127 votes. The second place video received 2,728 votes.

“We are really excited and we are really happy with the community,” Northwest Elementary Paula Martin said. “I think the exciting thing was we had so many people behind us. That’s kind of nice to know how they feel about the school. It warms your heart that people would do that and look out for the community.”

Martin said the prize money comes in the form of NEC products. NEC makes screens and projectors, so the school will receive projectors for their teaching smartboards. Now the money they don’t need to spend on projectors will be used for new computers.

“They’ve basically said, ‘Select $25,000 worth of our products and let us know what you want,’” Martin said. “We’re not wasting a moment.”

Students and staff entered the contest first by posting two YouTube videos. The first was a  “Rocky”-themed video urging people to vote for the school, while the second video also asked for votes. The school then submitted its main contest entry. Entries were whittled to the 10 finalists. Online voting began last week and ended May 22. Northwest Elementary was announced as the winner on May 23, the last day of school.

In the video — titled “Oh, It Froze!” — students sit in front of outdated computers and become frustrated as their computers freeze, then crash.

“The screen goes blank on the monitor today, not a tech guy to be seen,” Ross sings to the tune of “Let It Go.” “A lab full of anxious students and I think I’m going to scream.”

A student begins singing about the heartbreak of losing her work that was lost when her computer crashed.

“Oh, it froze! Oh, it froze! Can’t turn it on anymore,” Ross and the students sing. “Oh, it froze! Yes it froze, pick it up and toss it out the door.”

Ross then croons about how new technology will help her students learn. And just as the song begins to climax and they ask NEC for help, the screen freezes and shows an error message. A student screams, “Nooooooo!”

Yes, it froze.

Several people at the school made the video a success. Music teacher Candice McArthur wrote the words, and McArthur and her husband spliced the scenes together using video editing software. Students, staff and faculty did their best to get the word out. And then the community voted.

“Our part of it I feel like was so small compared to the community,” Ross said. “We absolutely could not have won this if it was not for the support of the community. It was just amazing. Everyone was so faithful to vote, to support us and to share and they didn’t get mad when we begged, pleaded and sent out daily reminders. We were very lucky to have a community to support us and help us to win.”

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