FAIRBANKS — Students at Lathrop High School have a lot to smile about after winning a $10,000 prize in the Glee Give A Note competition.
Lathrop music department students submitted a video to the competition, which challenged schools to show a need for money, creativity and the importance of music. Out of 104 entries in its region, Lathrop’s video was a second-place winner along with 12 other schools. Of 400 entries nationwide, there were three grand prize winners, 10 first prize winners and 60 second prize winners.
The video started off on a serious note, with students testifying to the music department’s need for some extra money.
“Every year, the school district cuts the budget more and more. Soon, we won’t even have one,” choir student Sydney Stone said from the seat of a run-down piano.
“Budget cuts have left us with bad instruments and not enough money for good sheet music,” orchestra student Ethan Boyce said.
Then, the singing picked up from the students, who walked Lathrop’s halls singing “Lean On Me.” The video focused on a variety of students — some playing instruments and some holding signs that highlighted the music’s importance at the school.
Choir teacher Carolyn Soderlund received an email this fall from the National Association for Music Education describing the contest. The contest was funded through the 20th Century Fox Television, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment and the NAfME. The grand prize was for $50,000, the first place prizes were each $25,000 and the second place prizes were $10,000.
“I saw it, and I thought, ‘Wow, that’s a lot of money... Why not try it?’” she said.
Her choir students were on board with the idea, and she decided to include the entire music department on the video. Students produced the video and edited it. Soderlund said she just made sure they were on task.
Soderlund picked “Lean On Me” because her students had sung it before, and there was a short period before the video had to be submitted.
The first portion of judging came from a public online voting period. The high school reached out to the community to garner as many votes as possible.
In a region with states like California and Arizona, Soderlund was worried the video wouldn’t attract enough voters.
Alaska was part of the West region, including Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Hawaii. The West region had the most entries of all five regions.
But Lathrop came out 18th in the region, once the online portion was over. Then, it was up to judges to choose winners.
Principal Dave Dershin was told of Lathrop’s success first, about a week ago. He was told to hold the information until it was made public.
Finally, at 1 p.m. Thursday, he went to Soderlund’s class and announced they were second place winners in the contest.
“They were very surprised,” she said. “There were kids crying and screaming and hugging.”
Though $10,000 sounds like a lot, Soderlund said it will be used quickly in the department. Even a new set of risers would cost more, she said.
For the students, though, it’s no matter.
“I think they’re even more excited about winning than the money,” she said.
Contact staff writer Reba Lean at 459-7523.
• Glee PSA: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XS-iYG6Jb4o"
• Lathrop's entry: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Hm9AnOBdZY"