1) What information tools & technologies did you used to complete your CyberFair project?
The project would not have been possible without access to a variety of technologies and information tools. The 300 students enrolled in the French program had access to two classroom computers, a digital camera, and the school’s computer lab. The 100 students enrolled in our technical center met daily in a networked lab with a scanner, a video capture card, a digital camera, and full Internet access. Through a partnership with "Vermont Institute of Science Math and Technology (VISMT), we also had access to COLD FUSION Server technology. Tech center students were introduced to this skill and requested more training so that they could build this year's CyberFair project using this technology. This turned out to be one of the KEYS to success in this project.
We also had access to video production equipment through the PEG (Public Education Government) Access studio located in our school. A partnership with the local newspaper allowed students to experience the tools and techniques necessary for producing a weekly print supplement in our local daily newspaper. Students used tape recorders, telephone, email, and video cameras to their interview our community. Some of them even conducted their interviews in French. Scanners, digital cameras, video capture, and tape recorders were used to create the scrapbooks. Another unique aspect of this project was that it involved in the sharing of resources between the academic and technical wings of our school. The technical students set up one of their scanners in the academic wing for the duration of the project. The academic students frequently came over to the technical center's classroom to use their computers and equipment. The project truly involved the spirit of SHARING and UNITING two components of our educational community which are currently in danger of being separated.
2) In what ways did you act as "ambassadors" and spokespersons for your CyberFair project both on-line and in person.
Our Franco American project has given students countless opportunities to work with our community. We started by a organizing a "kick off" to the project that included a day long brainstorming and planning session held in the United States, with a break for lunch in Canada. This international experience included 60 students and 10 community members. The energy flow as incredible and the word started to spread into the community about what we were doing. We continued to spread the word by developing a partnership with the local newspaper, where we prepared a weekly column featuring some aspect of our project. Some community members told us that they buy the paper every Wednesday to ready our LIFE ON THE BORDER column. As of this date, we have published 12 weekly columns. Three hundred students with tape recorders, video cameras, digital cameras, and notepads gathering information is bound to call attention to itself. Three hundred families started to dust off old photo albums, recipe books, musical instruments, and more. One family even offered to dig out its old "silent 8 mm film reels". We purposely organized our project to allow the momentum to build over a period of time and culminate in a community celebration. We have planned this community celebration to be the same night as the CyberFair Awards ceremony. Planning our project to be a 6 month celebration producing (print, digital, and live) activities, has given us numerous opportunities to be ambassadors. We believe that the Franco American Festival planned for May will be a a success because of the momentum we have built during this process. Adding components to our project outside the "web" helped us reach more members of our community.
3) What has been the impact of your project on your community?
We purposely planned our project so that it would impact our community on a larger scale than would be possible with a web site alone. The project has been good PR for our school starting with the kickoff day where 60 students and 10 community members walked across the border for lunch and worked together all day to plan the project. Our weekly column in the local newspaper features a recipe, some Franco American memories, and a profile of a local community members. We have heard that many people "go out and buy the paper on Wednesday, just so they don't miss our "Life on the Border" column. The experiences that our students are sharing about their interview experience are another example of the impact on the community. Grandparents, relatives and neighbors are dusting off old souvenirs, photo albums, citizenship papers, and more. Our online Scrapbooks, are providing our community with a way to preserve traditions and memories in a time when the culture is slowly getting lost. The generation that immigrated from Quebec is growing older and our project is providing our community to "capture" some of the traditions and memories that may soon be gone forever. Even though many of us have parents and grandparents who learned French as a first language, most of us struggle to learn French in school. This will impact our future generations as we will be able to pass on these memories and traditions. Our Festival will yet provide our Franco American community to truly SHARE with us their music, dance, food, and the spirit they brought to the United States. It will be a wonderful opportunity for this community to bond together in helping us experience the Franco American Spirit through this Festival.
4) How did your project involve other members of your community as helpers and volunteers?
Our project would not have been possible without such a wonderful and supportive community. Three hundred community members provided us with stories, memories, recipes, songs, dances, music, and more. They lent us their photo albums, dusted off their citizenship papers, and sang to us. Ten local community, including our mayor, local business members, and a Franco American performer, met with us to help kick off and brainstorm the project. Our local newspaper editor and staff provided us with the opportunity to reach our community every week by helping us publish a weekly column. Three local web designers have provided us with input and suggestions. One of our CyberFair Alumnae helped us "fix" our server during his Christmas break. We also have developed a partnership with one of our state organizations (The Vermont Institute of Science Math and Technology). They provided us with the opportunity to experiment with Cold Fusion and web base database. It allowed us to learn some high tech skills. We were fortunate enough to be receive support from two retired English teachers who graciously agreed to review our interviews and serve as writing mentors. It was also exciting how members from different communities throughout the school mentored and helped each other. A music student created midi’s for our site. Two animation students helped us with Flash and graphics. Video production students are helping us with a documentary. Technical center students served as mentors for other students learning technology.
5) Discoveries, Lessons and Surprises (Optional)
The project was filled with discoveries. We learned that some of the traditions that we thought were unique to our family, were really quite prevalent amongst our neighbors. We learned that we were not the only one who "hung their stockings on New Year's Eve" or whose aunts and uncles broke out into French "answering songs" while the cousins played "the spoons". Each week new discoveries were made. A week before the web site was launched, we discovered that a every Wednesday, a group of French Canadian community members gather at the Old Bobbin Mill Restaurant with their instruments and sing and dance the morning away. Probably the biggest surprise was how "big" the project got. The momentum just kept growing and our energy, interest and enthusiasm grew with it. The upcoming live community Festival will surely be a testimony to the success of our project.