By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Walnut students' video in top 12 for national contest
Walnut video pic
Karla Gutierrez, Ella Bernard, Maci Day and Parker Simpson talk about how trees provide a natural habitat for wildlife in Walnut Elementarys third grade video that is one of the top 12 finalists in the Scotties national Trees Rock video contest. - photo by Photo Contributed


Watch and vote for Walnut Elementary’s video at

Third graders at Walnut Elementary School put their arbor knowledge to the test by creating a video essay on the importance of trees — and then entering it into a national contest with $10,000 on the line.

Walnut teacher Irene Hales spearheaded bringing the three third grade classes together to create a compelling video for the Scottie’s Trees Rock Video Competition, a contest that allows schools to submit videos on the importance of trees to the environment in a commercial like setting. The grand prize is $10,000 and a Trees Rock Entertainment and Planting Event. One school will receive first prize, and $7,500; and two second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth place awardees will win $5,000 to $500, respectively.

“Being a visual and performing arts school we do a lot of film, so I thought it would be a good fit. I vetted the competition to make sure it was well run and I liked that there are no losers, all of the finalists get a prize which I think is important for this age group of students,” said Hales.

Her fellow teachers did not need much convincing and the students were enthusiastic to engage with other classes in a new way. By utilizing the school’s green screen, film features such as stop motion animation and a variety of other creative tools at the school, Walnut Elementary’s video scored the third graders a spot among the top 12 videos in the nation.

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 titled “Hug a Tree.”

“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 Hales, who attributes their success thus far to closely following the contest rules and goals. “Fortunately, the video is very integrated into what we are doing in the classroom so they really learned a lot.”

As a top 12 national finalist, Walnut Elementary third graders are already eligible for one of the prizes, but there is one caveat: the winners are determined by the number of votes garnered online. The only way for the school to receive the grand prize is to get the most votes. The polls are open until Feb. 14, and individuals can vote once every day.

 “We’re really hoping the town will rally behind the video, “said Hales.

Those interested in watching Walnut Elementary’s video and voting can do so at Voters are also entered for a chance to win a Scotties care package.