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Friday, May 6, 2016

Teens working to make a difference in their community

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Viola EAST Lab was awarded a superior ranking at the National EAST Lab Convention in Hot Springs. About 70 out of 170 schools received this recognition. The Viola EAST Lab students were interviewed for the Channel 11 News in Hot Springs.
Environmental and Spatial Technology (EAST) students from schools across the nation met in Hot Springs March 3-5.

About 170 EAST Labs attended the National EAST Lab Convention. All the students who attended the convention brought at least one jar of peanut butter to donate to Feeding America. Among the schools that attended were Viola's EAST Lab students, who ranked superior in their project competition.

The goal for EAST was to raise 2,000 jars of peanut butter -- at least one jar per student at the convention. Instead, they ended up collecting 4,650 jars, according to the March 4 count.

Who would have thought teenagers could do so much for their community? The Viola EAST students have had many projects throughout the year that have helped the area. For their hard work, they received the ranking of superior. Left to right are facilitator Ashley Lewis, Ashley Rodman, Ryan Oliver, Chenoa Ervin and Charita Etheridge. In the back are Chance Hickman and Joe Thiener.
"Regardless of recent concerns surrounding peanut butter and perhaps because of it, peanut butter is a food item that is rarely donated because it is more expensive than some of the other items requested on the food banks' top 10 list," Matt Dozier, EAST president and CEO, said. "However, this one item is extremely high in protein, very nutritious, does not need to be refrigerated, has a long shelf life and is considered to be worth its weight in gold."

"Perhaps equally as important, our students have seen the confusion and misinformation surrounding what peanut butter products are O.K. and what are not as a perfect opportunity for an EAST project. (They) have taken it on as such and the schools succeeded with flying colors," Dozier said.

Judges at the convention liked what the Viola EAST Lab students had done throughout the year with their projects. The Viola EAST Lab received a ranking of superior. There were 70 schools out of 170 that received this ranking.

The certificate the Viola EAST Lab received states, "This certificate of achievement is presented in recognition of their efforts to make a difference in their community. They have made a positive impact on their school and its students by promoting teamwork, problem solving and the innovative use of technology while demonstrating a truly powerful model of education."

Ashley Lewis, the Viola EAST Lab facilitator, said some of the students were interviewed for the Channel 11 News in Hot Springs. She also said four out of six of the students who went to the convention were awarded Make a Difference coins by some of the judges who were impressed by how the students presented themselves. "I'm really proud of them," Lewis said.

The students explained several worthwhile projects they completed throughout the year. They set up a safety booth at Viola School's Fall Festival where children learned about what to do in home emergencies, drug awareness, health and what to do with strangers.

At Thanksgiving, they quickly raised $75 so a less fortunate family could have a dinner to be thankful for.

The students also had a Christmas project where they received 175 toys and monetary donations for underprivileged children. They also gave cards to nursing homes over the holidays.

During the summer, the EAST students hosted Techno Teen Camp where students showed area kids how fun it is to use technology to solve every day problems using the Crime Scene Investigators (CSI) theme.

The students' main project was helping the North Arkansas Electric Cooperative (NAEC) with a Fulton County assessment for Gov. Mike Beebe's Summit on Education and Economic Development. The students will present this project to the Salem Chamber of Commerce in April.

The Viola students who went to the National EAST Conference were sophomore, Charita Etheridge; juniors Ashley Rodman, Ryan Oliver, Joe Thiener, Chance Hickman and senior, Chenoa Ervin.

The students said they are always looking for new ideas and ways to fill needs in the community. The Viola EAST Lab also accepts donations.

For those who have ideas or want to make a donation, they can call the Viola High School at 458-2213.

EAST is an organization that was founded in Greenbrier, Ark., about 12 years ago and has since grown to include over 220 schools in seven states.

Other local EAST Labs are at Mammoth Spring, Izard County Consolidated and Calico Rock high schools.

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