By Linda Petersen
SALT LAKE CITY — The student council at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School has earned $500 for the school library and an honorable mention in a contest sponsored by award-winning author Alane Adams, who advocates for literacy.
“The A Million Dreams Challenge is a chance for schools to showcase their students’ enthusiasm for reading and to engage them in a fun and creative process that reinforces why Reading is A Superpower,” Adams wrote in a website post announcing the contest.
The St. Vincent school librarian, Anna Zanarini, heard about the contest and contacted student council adviser Rachel Nemelka to see if the students would be interested in participating. The nine members of the council were excited to make the video.
The students have a library class in which they have been filming video clips for book trailers. Using the video camera and editing skills they developed in class, the student council members interviewed students from most grades over the course of several days to find out how reading helps them achieve their dreams.
“Maddie [Shragge, student council president] and her group did a really awesome video clip and her videography was really good,” Zanarini said “So, I thought the possibility was there to do something really awesome.”
“It is so cool,” Zanarini said of the video. “It is just beautiful; it makes me cry, actually.”
The student council members said the project was fun.
“I thought it was really cool just to see, especially with the little kids – just their imagination, how they thought books would help them in their lives,” seventh-grader Jack Clark said.
“It was very interesting seeing how many books there were that inspired kids. They found out a lot of jobs and I was like ‘Wait, I’ve never heard of this job. Where did you find this book?’” said Abigail Frankel, seventh grade.
“It was really cool to see how diverse the answers were and how much reading meant to all the kids involved,” seventh-grade officer Caroline Woodbury said.
Although Nemelka is the student council’s teacher facilitator, the kids did all the work on the video, she said.
“This was very much a proactive project of the council,” she said. “They are an extremely organized and talented group of students. It’s really amazing; I haven’t seen such a powerful group of students working together like this in a long time. They are making a lot of cool projects and change and a lot of cool things.”
Even though they did not win one of the main prizes, participating in the contest was a great experience and helped them hone their skills, members of the council said.
“Because I did a lot of editing, this builds a little bit of confidence going into more projects,” Maddie said. “I think a lot about the students and how everything we do really affects them and how happy they get over what student council does for them.”
Zanarini was notified on Dec. 16 that St. Vincent’s had been chosen for the honorable mention in the national A Million Dreams Challenge.
“Honorable mention means your students did a fantastic job and they are going to get $500 towards new books for their school and they should be really proud of that,” Adams said in a Dec. 16 YouTube video announcing the winners.
More than 20 schools entered the contest, which offered grants of up to $5,000 for the winning schools to purchase new books. St. Vincent’s was the only Catholic school mentioned as a finalist.
Zanarini said she will use the funds to help update the nonfiction section at the library.