By TAYLOR HARTZ
Southington High School (SHS) students stepped in front of the camera last month to share their thoughts on SHS and how easy it is to fit in at the local school.
Students entered the video in the Unlocker Challenge, a nationwide video contest sponsored by DuraLife.
The contest theme was “Through the Locker Door.” Students were asked to create a video that showed examples of inclusivity in their school.
Special education teacher Karen Cavanaugh said nearly 60 students, including 20 special needs students, jumped at the chance to be involved, and the group had a very positive message about how everyone is included at SHS.
“No matter what you like to do, you can find somewhere to fit in at SHS,” said Cavanaugh.
The contest offered new lockers for the winning school and a variety of scholarship opportunities for the three overall winners. The first place video earned $50,000 worth of new lockers and $7,500 in scholarships.
Although SHS didn’t take home a top 3 prize, their video made it into the top 100.
“It’s something that the kids are very proud of, and it’s such a positive message,” said Cavanaugh.
After dozens of students signed up to star in the two minute video, SHS reached out to the community for their help. Students, staff, families, and friends were asked to vote for the video each day, on as many devices as they could.
James Brino, a senior at SHS who helped with the project, said the contest required a lot of publicity to bring in votes. They relied heavily on social media.
“It took a lot of motion from us to get everyone voting,” said Brino.
Senior class officer Natalie Rickard, the video’s narrator, said that the video was worth all of the work they put in. “I loved working with the special needs kids,” she said. “It’s something that I love and helps benefit the school.”
The high volume of votes pouring in for SHS each day landed them in the top 100 videos. Competing against 99 other schools across the country in the second stage, SHS was judged by a panel of judges who chose three winners.
Cavanaugh said students in her special education classes were enthusiastic about keeping track of daily vote tallies. “All of the students that were in the video really enjoyed it,” she said. “They felt very excited about the support in town.”
“We did not win, but we learned a lot and had a great run,” said Brino. “It feels really cool that we have the support from our town for the special needs programs.”
To watch the video, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=KFnymZk7sM4&rel=0
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Taylor Hartz, email her at THartz@SouthingtonObserver.com.