The staff and students of Eaton School in Eatonia celebrate their accomplishment on June 12 after learning they won $7,500 through a video contest by the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation called The Student Project.

Kenneth Brown
of The Clarion

The video made by staff and students at Eaton School in Eatonia has earned the school a cash prize after being seen more than 13,700 times on YouTube.

The school won the $7,500 gold star prize after participating in an initiative by the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF) called The Student Project. A total of 36 schools entered videos in the contest and they each had a chance to win two cash prizes.

Schools posted videos to YouTube in May and the video with the most views by June 11 at noon would win the gold star prize of $7,500. The grand prize of $10,000 could be won by any of the participating schools regardless of views. The grand prize was decided by a draw, but the winning school was not announced in time to publish.

Staff and students at Eaton School gathered in the gymnasium for an assembly in the morning on June 12, but the students did not know the school had won. Principal Lisa King broke the news to students at the assembly.

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Eaton School representatives show off an oversized cheque for $7,500 with help from Angela Banda (right), a senior administrator for the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation. Left to right, principal Lisa King, Grade 12 student Aaron Keith, Grade 11 student Amber Adams and Banda.

The curtains on stage opened to reveal four balloons shaped as the number 7,500, and the students erupted with a huge cheer. King said the school received a call from STF on Monday to notify the school about the successful video campaign. King congratulated the students on their accomplishment.

She introduced Angela Banda, a senior administrator for STF, who addressed the students. Banda had brought an oversized cheque to present to the school. She said it is a pleasure to be at the school to congratulate students on a job well done.

Banda said she watched the school’s video several times and she was following along with the contest. She told students she had packed her bags before Friday and she was prepared to go to a school in another community that was leading at the time, but then she got to work on Monday morning and heard she was going to Eatonia.

The students let out another cheer and Banda said the school made a “catchy” video for the contest. She noted that students displayed a lot of energy in the video and it speaks to the idea of working together as a school.

As a long-time teacher, she said she could tell the students have fun at the school. According to Banda, it was the first year for The Student Project and the school won the gold star prize with a total of 13,702 views. The school had excellent support.

“I’m thinking that it went way beyond students, staff and family,” Banda said, adding that she looks forward to seeing what the school does next year. “You had a real community effort and that, too, speaks to your school. Well done Spartans.”

The STF representative gave thanks to King for allowing the school to participate and to teacher Nichole Bredy, who spearheaded the video. Banda also thanked musician Mitch Larock and photographer Jenny Hagan for helping with the video – a parody of the Barenaked Ladies hit song “If I Had $1,000,000” apply called “If I Had $10,000.”

After the presentation, everyone on hand for the announcement watched the video together. The school’s youngest students were heard singing along with the video and after the students had left, King said she was very proud of the school.

“They did such an awesome job,” she said, recognizing that it was a real collaborative effort, and she was proud of the leadership and creativity shown by the staff and students. “The students all came together.”

She noted that Eaton School was battling neck and neck with another school over the final days of the contest, so there were nervous moments when the school went into the final weekend in second place. Staff and students got the word out to friends, family and other people to watch the video and it worked, King said. She added that the video aligned with the school’s mentorship program, so it was awesome.

Amber Adams, a Grade 11 student at Eaton, was in the video and she said it is really exciting to win the contest, especially when the school was trailing on the weekend. Adams said the school managed to catch up and she agreed that it took on a life of its own at school.

The student said she believes the video helped to bring the school closer together because students from all grades had to collaborate with each other, but students in the same grades also had to collaborate more than usual. Adams said it was awesome to see the younger students take such an interest in the project.

Larock, an alum with two children in the school, said he was really happy when he was asked to help with the video. He added that he knew it would be important to the students and for him, “there was nothing better” than finding out the school had won.