School wins state video competition

Fox Meadow School of Creative Media sixth-graders Samaiyah James and Bailey Elkins work on a segment Friday for the school production company called Big Fox News.

JONESBORO — Bailey Elkins, a Nettleton Fox Meadow School of Creative Media sixth-grader, said sometimes getting the right camera angle is tough.

“We have to redo the video and do several takes,” she said.

Elkins, who has aspirations of being a photographer when she grows up, was one of several students who worked on an award-winning informative video about internet safety.

Principal Debra Johnson said her sixth-grade students competed in a Digital Learning Days Video Competition, hosted by the Arkansas Department of Secondary and Elementary Education.

“They called their video ‘Forging Your Internet Shield,’” she said. “They shot the footage, put the video together, and won first place.”

Renee Brown, an instructional facilitator at the school, said she had the students make the video making sure to stress the importance of internet safety.

“We covered keeping passwords, emails and addresses private. We also covered online predators as well as cyberbullying,” she said.

Sixth-grader Samaiyah James was one of the student actors for the film.

“I played the teacher,” she said. “The toughest part was remembering the lines. We had the script running on a TV off to the side so I could see it.”

Brown said both of the students showed great leadership skills.

“The students were (competing) against other schools in the entire state. We won last year, and we won again this year,” she said.

Winning a statewide video competition is not the only achievement the school has made this year, although, just like every other school district, there were some definite challenges presented by the pandemic.

Johnson said pandemic guidelines caused Fox Meadow School of Creative Media not to be able to visit places or receive visitors at their facility.

“There were some rough times this school year. October through December really got us,” she said, noting at one point Johnson said the school had to close due to the rising COVID-19 numbers.

Johnson said the COVID-19 cases have finally begun to decrease.

“We have seen fewer and fewer cases,” she said. “We have made it through.”

Another project continued this year was a fundraiser to bring water containers to the African nation Uganda.

The effort was originally spearheaded by former Transportation Director Greg Rainwater and his wife Tammy, assistant principal at Fox Meadow School of Creative Media.

In the first year, the African Water Project the students were able to raise $1,179.82 to purchase two water tanks to be placed in Kampala, Uganda. Students held volleyball games and ran concession stands charging other students a dollar to participate.

Rainwater then took the money to Kampala where she partnered with a pastor in the town. The two tanks provided water to over 200 homesteads. Rainwater said at times, locals would have to walk three miles carrying water buckets on their heads just to have clean drinking water.

Rainwater said this year, students were able to raise $800 to purchase tanks for Kumi, Uganda.

“Every time we go to Uganda, we buy beads and then we bring them back and sell the bracelets for fundraisers,” she said. “This is a way to support them twice. We purchase them from the maker, then we bring them back here and sell them to raise money for the tanks.”

Johnson said it will be a yearly fundraiser for the students.

The school is also beginning to form new community partnerships. This week Brandon Carter, digital media specialist of The City of Jonesboro, invited students to the Municipal Center for a tour.

Johnson said students will help with videotaping certain meetings.

“They will help to run Channel 24,” Johnson said.

Bill Campbell, Jonesboro’s director of communications, said the communications team met with Fox Meadow educators to come up with a project they can do.

“We have great partnerships with Nettleton High School and Middle School students, and the mayor is excited to see what these kids come up with for Jonesboro,” he said.

The school is also working on becoming an Apple Distinguished School, Johnson said.

Brown said the school is still in the application process. “They invited us to a virtual meeting. We will find out in the fall if we are accepted.”

Johnson said if the school’s application is approved, it will bring more technology and opportunities for the students.

“There are only 350 schools worldwide classified as Apple Distinguished Schools,” she said. “We will get to network … with other schools.”