BRISTOL, Tenn.—Avoca Elementary School’s fifth-grade class screamed with excitement Tuesday when surprised with a $5,000 check from the CenturyLink Clarke M. Williams Foundation Grant.

Three schools are chosen annually to receive the grant, which is named after CenturyLink's founder Clarke M. Williams, and designed to help fund projects that advance student success through the innovative use of technology.

Vonda Beavers, the school’s principal, said the grant money will be used to purchase digital cameras, audio equipment, a green screen, and computers to expand the school’s QUEST [Questioning, Understanding, Exploring, Succeeding Together] enrichment program.

She also said the surprise was a part of the plan.

“I’ve known about it for about a week,” she said. “The students didn’t know either so involving them in the surprise has added to the excitement. When kids see how thrilled the teachers are about teaching it makes them want to learn—making learning fun creates children who are life-long learners—and this is just fun.”

After Martin Winters, the physical education teacher, recovered from the surprise, he said he’ll use the videos to introduce students to the world of journalism.

“There are so many aspects of journalism that the kids get exposed to using technology,” he said. “There’s photography, videographey, editing, and producing—using digital cameras and editing software opens a new world to them—and that’s something no one can ever take away from them.”

History teacher Dustin Pannell said he’ll use the new equipment to bring history to life for his students.

“Technology is like a time machine,” he said. “Kids can use their laptops and see things that they can’t see on an everyday basis—technology has brought the idea of virtual field trips to a reality—and makes learning so much more exciting.”

Marchelo Maynor, operations manager for CenturyLink in Tennessee, said he thought the school’s idea was innovative.

“Kids all learn differently and using the technology in a broadcast sense might help some of the children grasp concepts in learning that they might not otherwise grasp. What they’re doing here is pretty neat,” he said.

All students will have access to the equipment, Beavers said.

“This is an added way to engage the children,” she said. “Technology is a part of the world we live in and we’re thankful that because of this grant we will be able to make the program accessible to all the children.”

The other two schools chosen for this year’s grant were Davy Crockett High School in Jonesborough and Michie Elementary School in Middle Tennessee.

tchildress@bristolnews.com | 276-645-2512 | Twitter@TChildressBHC

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