Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

March 28, 2012

Oakview Elementary techies win state championship trophy

Cyber safety awareness project helps protect from online predators and bullies

ASHLAND — Concern for their fellow students led a group of fifth-grade techies at Oakview Elementary to a state championship trophy.

Members of the Student Technology Leadership Program, developed a cybersafety awareness project so their schoolmates could protect themselves from online bullies and predators. They demonstrated their project at the state STLP conference last week and prevailed over hundreds of other projects to bring home the first-place prize.

“Internet safety is a big topic, because kids will always have a situation they don’t feel comfortable with or they will be approached by someone they don’t know,” said Haleigh Baer.

So they surveyed all the students at Oakview and learned that a significant percentage had already found themselves in those situations.

They got on the Internet and found out for themselves how easy it is, with a minimum of personal information, to use Google Maps to find people.

They got some safety ideas from the Ashland police and the Boyd County sheriff’s office, and printed up educational brochures they designed themselves on their computers.

They also designed and printed Internet safety pledges they sent home with students; those who signed them, got their parents to sign them too and then returned them to school got small rewards. About half the 450 children at Oakview returned the signed pledges.

That told the group two things.

“That tells us they’re learning,” said Luke Alley.

“But we also need to continue educating,” Kyleigh West said.

Without access to and a firm grasp of software and other technological tools, they would not have been able to implement an effective educational campaign, they believe.

“We couldn’t have made half the stuff we made,” Baer said.

Their project stood out at the state competition because of its relevance and the incorporation of community and family, said faculty advisors Kim Clayton and Jamie Campbell.

Tapping police and sheriff’s department sources added credibility, and including parents in the safety pledge process made the project effective.

“This was teaching kids to teach parents. That’s what was different from the other 500 showcases there,” Clayton said.

Other members of the team were Mary Thornburg, Cassie Stevens and Kaylie Muzic.

A second Ashland school, Hager Elementary, had the state runner-up team. Their project, “A Cause for Paws,” raised awareness and funds for the Ashland Animal Rescue Fund.

The students used publishing and video software to plan fundraisers and adoption plans for dogs.

MIKE JAMES can be reached at mjames@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2652.

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