By Donna Thornton/News Editor
Alabama Power Company embarked on an educational project in the fall of 2013, as part of its celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Gadsden Steam Plant that will culminate this year with celebrations at schools that submitted winning presentations for a contest.
The first party was hosted at Oscar Adams Elementary School in East Gadsden, not far from the Steam Plant’s location.
The company, in partnership with the City of Gadsden, the Messenger and Channel 24TV, sponsored a contest for students to submit any type of creative and informative presentation about the history and the importance of the Steam Plant in Alabama Power’s history.
Submissions could be from an entire class, a team or an individual, and could have included essays, videos or other presentations.
Alabama Power supplied each fourth grader in the Gadsden City, Etowah County, Attalla City and private schools with a copy of The Gadsden Centennial, a retro-designed newspaper filled with information about the history of the steam plant, Renew our Rivers, and other activities; and a reporter’s package including a notebook, press badge and pencil.
Two winners were selected from Gadsden City Schools, Etowah County Schools, and from Attalla City and private schools.
The two fourth-grade classes at Oscar Adams Elementary were treated to a pizza party on Jan. 17 after claiming first-place with their video entry.
The video begins as a silent movie, complete with title cards and black and white images (many of them students in costume) before converting to full-color for student explanation of what hydroelectricity is.
In addition to the party for students, fourth-grade teachers Casey Baker and Shekelia Marshall received a $1,500 grant.
The teachers said they are thinking about using the money for a field trip for the students – something that all the students in their classes can enjoy.
Both teachers said the best thing about the project was that it allowed all the students to get involved – doing research, writing, and being recorded for the video.
Marshall credited Baker with being the creative spark and inspiration as they worked on the project, but Baker said that they worked together to get it done.
Baker said she and her husband came up with the idea of the silent film opening.
She said The Gadsden Centennial, the retro newspaper provided to the schools served as the starting point for the project. Student did additional research for the project.
“They were very excited,” Baker said. “They got the opportunity to dress up and be recorded.”
Alabama External Affairs and Relations specialist Alyson Tucker presented the grant to Marshall and Baker as she and other Alabama Power representatives joined the students for the pizza party and viewing of their video.
Among those representatives was Leah Atkins, who researched and wrote the history of the steam plant that the students received. She was one of the judges of the contest, and she told the students she was very proud of the work they did.
“There’s nothing finer than knowing about the history of the place we live,” Atkins told the students, who attend school “just down the road” from the Gadsden Steam Plant.
The student entries in the contest were judged on presentation, interaction with someone from Alabama Power or a local citizen, content, originality of the idea and additional research.
Alabama Power Company representatives will be visiting other schools with winning entries in coming weeks.