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Paynesville Press - April 23, 2003

Homework really pays for two PAHS ninth graders

By Michael Jacobson

While parents and teachers frequently laud the lasting benefits of homework, students don't normally get paid for doing it.

Lindsey Pelton and Megan Reeck, both ninth graders at Paynesville Area High School, learned last week that they will each get a hefty check on account of a homework assignment. Pelton and Reeck took first and second place respectively in a national contest to submit ideas for a hunting documentary video by the Council for Wildlife Conservation and Education.

Cash prizes are $2,500 for first place and $1,500 for second place.

Ninth graders at PAHS were working on their Read, Listen, and View graduation standard last fall, which involves looking at issues critically, when teacher Michelle Andersen found the contest information. The Council for Wildlife Conservation and Education is updating its video about hunting, geared for teenagers, and wanted ideas from actual teenagers.

Ninth graders Lindsey Pelton and Megan Reeck - who consider themselves best friends - learned that they took first and second place in a national contest last week, earning $2,500 and $1,500 respectively.

Andersen said the video, looking at the pros and cons of hunting, provided a real life exercise for her classes. The contest application asked students to provide a title for the video, to suggest ideas for the narrators and the format, to suggest music, and to describe how the different views about hunting should be presented.

Students had to complete the contest application for school credit in December but also could submit their entry in the contest. About half of the ninth graders did, according to Andersen.

Right away, students wanted to know if they had won, but as time went on their classmates and they sort of forgot about the contest, according to Pelton and Reeck.

The two girls were surprised when they learned they had won last week. Both were called to the office before school on Monday, April 11, and given a letter.

"So I opened mine up and started reading and $1,500 flashed at me and I said, 'I won,' and started jumping up and down," said Reeck.

"So then I said, 'Maybe I should open mine,'" said Pelton.

The two girls had swept the top two prizes, with Pelton winning $2,500 and Reeck winning $1,500.

And as excited as they were to win, they both thought their teacher was even more excited. Andersen was sick that day but was informed by Pelton's mother by phone. "I was just astounded," said Andersen.

Both Pelton and Reeck said that their video descriptions recommended a balanced approach to the video, giving both pro and con views equal airing. Pelton recommended a dramatized video, setting pro and con views in a single town. Some of the details she included were specific songs, including "Peace Frog" by the Doors, which she thought would go with the anti-hunting views.

Reeck suggested having two teen narrators and stressed being unbiased in presenting information, including being careful what video images should be shown. She spent some time brainstorming but only about an hour actually writing her recommendations.

"Ours were pretty diplomatic," said Reeck. "Yeah, that's kind of what they wanted," added Pelton. According to Andersen, the council received 75 entries that were worthy of being judged, and PAHS swept the top two spots. (The contest also had a $1,000 prize for third.)

Both Pelton's and Reeck's ideas will be incorporated into the actual video. In addition to their prize money, each will receive a copy of the final video, as will the school.

Andersen said that Pelton, the daughter of Colleen and Ian Pelton, and Reeck, the daughter of Gary and LuAnn Reeck, are both hard-working, creative students who put tons of detail into their entries.

Both Pelton and Reeck figure to put the money in savings, possibly for college, when their checks actually arrive. Pelton, though, has been asked by members of her English class and by her softball teammates to splurge for DQ treats. when her check arrives. If she does, doing her homework will pay for her classmates and teammates, too.

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