A single mouse-click could make a significant impact for a local school.
Every online vote could help Turlock High School win a $5,000 classroom makeover, courtesy of the Great American Classroom Makeover.
The annual contest offers teachers the chance to win a full classroom makeover, with prizes ranging from $1,000 to $5,000.
Turlock High School English, yearbook and journalism teacher Virginia Barr entered the contest, which is currently accepting votes, in hopes of replacing classroom goods lost in a 2011 flood.
In December 2012, Barr received an email from Maria Peterson, the interim principal at Turlock High School, with information about the contest.
“As soon I received it, I thought ‘okay, we can make this work, I can do this,’” said Barr.
Barr’s classroom suffered a devastating flood in December 2011, resulting in the loss of almost all of her teaching supplies and equipment after a large drainage pipe crashed through the ceiling during a heavy storm. The broken pipe, which destroyed the ceiling and a wall, also heavily damaged the computers in her classroom.
“We never asked to have them replaced, but instead dried them out,” Barr said. “Our techies fixed them, but they’re still temperamental. They like to turn off on their own. One even popped and smoked one day.”
Multiple design books – purchased out-of-pocket by Barr for her yearbook class – were also destroyed by mold and water damage.
Barr submitted a 300-word essay and a photograph to contest organizers explaining the damage that had occurred. In January, Barr learned she had been selected as a finalist.
Should THS win the competition, Barr will receive $5,000 to use on her classroom as she sees fit. Another $5,000 will be given to Turlock High School to use on campus and classroom improvements.
“I would look into getting laptops, as that would make a huge difference as far as counter space is concerned,” Barr said.
With 245 students in her classroom every day, Barr can use all the extra counter space she can get. Barr’s classroom hosts the students of journalism, yearbook, English, Games Club, Anime Club, and the Zombie Survival Society – a club that focuses on sustainable resources, irrigation, and other important aspects of survival.
Despite the damage that occurred to her classroom, Barr and her students banded together to use every available resource to revive the school newspaper and make, “some of the best yearbooks the school has seen in 108 years.”
“We just want to make the necessary upgrades, nothing fancy-shmancy, just things to get us by,” Barr said. “My kids really deserve this. They have worked so hard, for so long. I have kids that have been in my journalism class for all four years, and it would be amazing to have new technology for them to use during their senior year.”
Should Turlock High School win the award, Barr said she would use the money to purchase new equipment to “continue their legacy of excellence.”
Supporters of Barr's classroom may vote once per day. To vote online, visit www.gaclassroommakeover.com by Feb. 21. The contest ends on February 22nd according to the contest website.