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Walnut Elementary wins $10,000 through national competition
Walnut Elementary celebrates their grand prize victory in the national Scotties Tree Rock video competition. The win comes with a $10,000 cash prize for the school. - photo by Photo Contributed

Money doesn’t grow on trees, but it can be won with them.

After months of hard work, Walnut Elementary has won the $10,000 grand prize in the national Scotties Tree Rock video competition. The contest allows schools to submit videos on the importance of trees to the environment in a commercial like setting, and Walnut battled it out among the top 12 national contestants before winning the grand prize on Monday.

After maintaining first place for weeks before dropping to second place just a week shy of the final vote on Feb. 14, Walnut was concerned. The winner is determined solely by online votes with the limit of one vote per person per day so Walnut reached out to the community through several avenues to increase votes. College students voted in class, the mayor sent out reminder emails and parents advocated for their students’ school and the community support resulted in a win for Walnut.

“Our biggest prize was the outpouring of support from our community,” said Ginette Reeves, assistant principal at Walnut Elementary.

Walnut’s video, which was created through  a collective effort of the third grade classes, is titled “Hug a Tree” and utilizes features such as the school’s green screen, stop motion animation and a variety of other creative tools at the school. The classes found time in between academic activities and lunch to film and the students were involved in all aspects of its creation, from costume and prop making to speaking and singing in the film, evening writing their own song.

“I think you could really see in our video how much the kids loved doing it, yet you could also see the concentration on their faces,” said third grade teacher Irene Hales, who spearheaded the event. “Fortunately, the video is very integrated into what we are doing in the classroom so they really learned a lot.”

As the grand prize winners, Walnut will receive a tree planting ceremony and concert assembly along with the $10,000, which the school intends to spend on technology to enhance student learning.