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Student projects head to media fest
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Computer-lab teachers Victoria Peterson, from Lyman Hall Elementary, and Wanda Smith, from Frank Long Elementary, judge Student Media Festival entries Friday at the Liberty County Board of Education. - photo by Photo by Danielle Hipps

Out with the tri-fold board, in with audio-visual presentations laced with hand-drawn illustrations and graphic cartoons.
That was the consensus for school communication on Friday as 40 judges volunteered to score the district’s 352 project submissions for the Georgia Student Media Festival. There were 1,776 Liberty County School System students who contributed to projects, and six projects came from First Presbyterian Christian Academy.
Like most tests, projects are graded on a 100-point scale.
Projects receiving scores of 96 and higher advance to the Georgia Student Media Festival on May 3 in Jonesboro, according to LCSS media coordinator Jaime Rearley. There are 202 projects advancing.
“There’s a variety of projects,” Rearley said. “We’ve got a lot of movies that they used iMovie to make, … we’ve got websites, some PowerPoints, podcasts — it’s just a wide variety of different types of projects today.”  
The competition features a new element this year as schools adapt to the Georgia Common Core Performance Standards, which encourage more multimedia presentations than previous Georgia standards.
That also is tied to an increase in project submissions, as there were 280 submitted to the local competition last year, Rearley said.
Last year, 538 students participated in the 74 Liberty County projects that advanced to the International Student Media Festival.
In 2011, the district sent 150 projects to the Georgia State Media Festival, and 83 of them advanced to the International Student Media Festival in Jacksonville.
The same grading will be used at state, where those who score 96-100 will receive superiors. In past years, state superiors would advance to the international competition — but Rearley said it does not look like there will be an international festival this year, as organizations that sponsor the competition “have hit on hard times.”
The district still will roll out the red carpet at the Performing Arts Center later this spring for the students who score superiors at state.  
Advancing students have until Friday to strengthen their projects according to feedback from the judges before the creations are submitted to the festival.  
Computer-lab teachers Victoria Peterson, from Lyman Hall Elementary, and Wanda Smith, from Frank Long Elementary, judged together.
“That had science fair written all over, the last one; that was a good one,” one woman said. “I like it when they integrate science fair and the media project.”
As they watched a sixth-grade iMovie about Greek gods, the instructors commented on the technical qualities and the project’s content.
“It’s a great way for them to show what they’ve learned,” Smith said.
“That and in this day and age — the digital age — this is a way they’re all familiar with in how to express themselves, and it allows them to do it on their terms,” Peterson added.
In the next room, Button Gwinnett Elementary paraprofessional Sandra Smalls and computer-lab teacher E.K. Williams also worked together.
After judging a Lewis Frasier Middle School science-oriented project about conduction and convection, the women said they were inspired.
“It was neat, the conduction, convection and how they did it with rap and singing,” Williams said.
“It caught my attention from the beginning … very creative. It makes me want to go home and melt some crayons,” Smalls said.
Tech4Learning software sponsored the LCSS festival, Rearley said. Individuals and groups of five or fewer with a superior score win a software license to load at home. Each superior class project wins one software license to be raffled to one student winner from the class.

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