By Curt Yeomans
North Clayton Middle School students are asking residents to go online to help the school win Big Lots' second annual "Lots2Give" contest.
Prize money won in the contest would be used for the purchase of laptop computers and video-conferencing technology, so students can talk to their counterparts in other parts of the world, said Douglas Henry, a computer teacher at North Clayton Middle School and one of the teachers working with the students on the project.
"Students tend to do better on assignments when technology is involved," said Henry. "In the past, you just read out of a book and that was how you learned, but these days, students do not tend to get as engaged unless there is some technology involved."
North Clayton is one of 103 schools participating in the "Lots2Give" program, and is among 46 schools electing to participate in the video competition part of the fund-raiser. Visitors to the Lots2give.com web site can view each school's video and vote for their favorite until July 12. The school whose video receives the most votes will receive the $10,000 grand prize. The schools behind the next three most popular videos receive $5,000 each, and 22 more schools will receive $2,500 each.
Visitors to the web site are allowed to vote for their favorite school three times a day.
The Burgess-Peterson Academy in Atlanta is the only other Georgia school which submitted a video for the competition.
Another Clayton County school, Northcutt Elementary School, is participating, but solely through the donation method, according to the "Lots2Give" program's web site. Big Lots shoppers can choose, at the checkout register, to donate $1 or $5 to Lots2Give, which will be collected and distributed among participating schools in the Atlanta area.
The "Lots2Give" program is a way for schools across the country to raise some money for education, but while not all of the participating schools have entered the video portion of the contest, all of the schools will receive money through donations collected at Big Lots stores in their local market, said Big Lots spokesperson Toni Fink.
"One of the things Big Lots is into is giving back to the community," Fink said. "We think education is very important to the community ... It [the 'Lots2Give' competition] was just a fun way to give something back."
Fink said the schools involved in the video competition have told Big Lots officials they plan to use the money for a wide range of projects, including playground improvement projects, school repairs, and technology purchases.
"It's kind of interesting to see what each school is looking for," Fink said. "It's really a fun contest. The schools get really creative with their videos."
Henry said he and fellow North Clayton teachers Linda Green and Rochelle Jacobs helped produce a video starring eight pupils from North Clayton Middle School. In the video, the students complain to each other about not being able to get a robot to move because they lack the technology to make it work.
Most of North Clayton's video is shown in a sepia-toned format, to underscore the notion that the school's technology is out of date, Henry said.
Fink said the winner of the video competition will be announced on the "Lots2Give" web site on Aug. 1.