BIC EAST receives top award

Tuesday, April 4, 2017
The thrill of victory was when the BIC EAST Team received the Founder's Award, the top EAST award. Pictured are the team's presenters Alex Talavera and Drew McFall. (photo provided)

Buffalo Island Central High School, under the direction of facilitator Jill Sanders, won the 2017 Timothy R. Stephenson Founder's Award, the highest honor presented at the 2017 EAST Conference held March 14-16 at the Hot Springs Convention Center.

This is BIC's third year to be be part of the EAST Initiative in five states.

"The Founder's Award isn't a program of the year award passed around from school to school," Matt Dozier, president and CEO of the EAST Initiative, said. "Receiving it signifies achievement in all the core tenants of EAST: using sophisticated technology, collaborating with community, and students growing through those experiences.

"While Buffalo Island Central is relatively new to EAST, they have excelled, and tremendously so. They deserve and have earned this highest honor we can bestow."

Buffalo Island Central East All Conference team received the Founder's Award. Pictured from left are: back -- Timothy Stephenson, founder of EAST; David Moody, EAST Board of Directors Chairperson; Jace Couch, Logan Lawrence, Chris Renteria, Drew McFall, Ethan Webster, Matt Dozier, CEO and President of EAST; Gaylon Taylor, BIC Superintendent. Front -- Alissa Hughes, Nathan Sanders,BIC School Board member; Jill Sanders, BIC EAST Facilitator; Krista Cox, Kensie Walker, Cadyn Qualls, Alex Talavera. (photos provided)

The BIC EAST Conference Team finished in the finalists last year and came home with a determination to finish first next year with their combined projects and presentation.

"Even though we finished in the finalists last year I couldn't convince Alex Talavera, one of our members that not being first was not a failure," Sanders said.

Members of the 2017 EAST Conference Team include Alex Talavera and Drew McFall, seniors who represented the team as presenters; Kensie Walker, senior; Cadyn Qualls, junior; Jace Couch, junior; Chris Renteria, junior; Alissa Hughes, sophomore; Krista Cox, sophomore; Ethan Webster, sophomore; and Logan Lawrence, sophomore.

Leading up to the Founder's Award, several projects were presented.

BIC members Cadyn Qualls and Logan Lawrence won the "3D Print It Up" competition with their 3D printed doll crutch project.

Cadyn and Logan found out a local child they knew was getting an American Doll for Christmas. The child has battled Transverse Myelitis and uses a crutch. The two students decided a good project would be to create a crutch, like the one she uses, for her doll.

Krista Cox and Cadyn Qualls were awarded difference maker coins which is only given to a select few. Theses coins are given out by EAST staff as well as other dignitaries with EAST. A "Difference Maker" means you have made a significant impact in your EAST program, your school, and your community.

To win the Founder's Award, schools must submit work showing achievement in three categories: community collaboration, project sophistication; and student growth. Each category comes with its own individual award of excellence. The winners of these categories were: Community Collaboration, Nettleton High School; Project Sophistication, Armorel High School; and Student Growth, Helen Tyson Middle School (Springdale).

The conference top five finalist teams make a presentation to a panel of judges. It is difficult to present the projects in a 10 minute presentation but the BIC students made it work.

"They worked really hard on their presentation," Sanders said. "They did well and represented BIC well."

In addition to the judges, once they won, they presented it to everyone attending the conference which was about 3,000 people.

"We learned a lot last year," Alex said. "Sometimes you have to fail to succeed. We didn't want to be in the top five, we wanted to be first."

Drew McFall calls being involved with EAST for the last three years very rewarding.

"From the start to number one in three years is an honor," McFall said.

In addition to the trophy, the team brought home over $10,000 in prizes for the EAST Initiative classroom. Among the prizes were four new 3D printers with two of those having a build capacity of 12" by 12" by 16", $750 to spend on technology for the EAST classroom, and 150 personal Google SketchUp licenses for EAST students. The big prize was a Microsoft Hololens which is the first self-contained, holographic computer, enabling you to engage with your digital content and interact with holograms in the world around you.

"Only about 1,500 were made," Drew McFall said. "We are charged with finding a purpose for it."

The Conference team will be honored as guests of Governor Asa Hutchinson in Little Rock at the end of April or first of May.

Some of the projects the BIC EAST students include:

*Collaborating with the American Legion to put together a Veterans Day Program; placing flags on veteran's graves at the Monette Cemetery.

*Creating a 3D prosthetic hand for an elementary teacher.

*A grain bin map created of Northeast Arkansas to share with area emergency personnel.

*Seeing with Sound, building an interactive project using Arduino to help the visually impaired.

*Worked with the UofA to write grants for local farmer's market and a smart water management plan.

*Created a Mustang Athletic Website.

*Fire Hydrant Map (collaborated with Riverside, Brookland, and Manila EAST programs to create a map of Buffalo Island to be used by local fire departments).

*Geocaching in Buffalo Island.

*Built and installed a free Little Library in the city of Black Oak.

*Created a map using ArcGIS to document the location of veterans' graves.

*Created testimonial videos for a transitional living home for women recovering from drug addictions.

*AState Weather Service Management.

*Touch a truck to raise money for Hope Circle and United Water.

*Adopt a Grand-friend.

*Partnered with ANC to offer community education classes including intro to Gmail/Google Drive, etc.

*Created a website for the Monette Housing Authority.

*Created a website of book trailers to encourage literacy throughout the school disctrict.

Sanders said she would like to see the program expanded to lower grades. She has 115 students enrolled in the high school program.

"The EAST program has a great impact on students," Sanders said.

Kensie Walker said she wishes everyone could attend Conference.

"It would makes us realize what a big deal EAST is," Kensie said. "It really makes a difference in our school, our community, and our world."

The BIC EAST Initiative will be hosting EAST Night Out on Thursday, April 20th, at 6 p.m. at the Mustang Athletic Complex in Monette. Alex and Drew will be giving their presentation and the EAST classroom will be open for touring. EAST students will be there to share some of their projects. They would like to invite everyone to attend.

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