ST. ALBANS CITY — St. Albans City School has been named the winner of the national Student Voices Award given by the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA). It is the first school in Vermont to receive the annual award.

According to a statement from SETDA, the award was given in recognition of city school’s use of technology to “dramatically improve educational experiences and achievement for their students.”

Peter Drescher, education technology coordinator at the Agency of Education, nominated city school for the award. His nomination focused on a school-wide economics project in which students created businesses and made products to sell. It culminated in a mall at which students sold their products to visitors.

Students had to consider such things as the cost of production, how much they would need to charge to cover those costs and if their creations would sell at those prices, as well as marketing, branding and quality control.

The unit was so successful it led to the creation of two businesses within the school, said Principal Joan Cavallo.

It was also when the school’s makerspace – an area where kids can build and create – reached a tipping point. “Our makerspace took off,” said Cavallo. “We have more kids than we know what to do with” wanting to use the space.

“It’s now become tools for everyone in the school,” she said as adults as well as students have become more familiar with the space and what they can do there. “We have a school where no one is really afraid of it anymore.”

The two businesses are also taking advantage of that space. One of those, Hands On Practical Education (HOPE), makes a range of products in response to orders. When the school needed nameplates for new staff, for example, Cavallo opted to order them from HOPE.

But it isn’t just those who make the products who work for HOPE. The young business also “hired” two students as unpaid interns to do communications and manage the finances. Those seeking the positions had to submit letters of intent, said Cavallo. The only challenge was that once they were working with HOPE, they wanted to get their hands dirty making things, along with their communication and finance roles.

The second business grew out of the work of the stewardship committee, which is made up of 10 students and four adults. The committee was concerned about the amount of disposable coffee cups adults in the school were throwing into the trash, so they founded a business to make and sell reusable coffee mugs.


Read more about the national Student Voices Award and St Albans City School’s use of technology in today’s Messenger.