A little perseverance went a long way for some Tiffin Middle School students.
An accelerated English class of 29 sixth-graders entered Bing's "Our School Needs" contest hoping to win a $200,000 grant to replace the library with e-readers. Although their "Our School Needs Kindle" proposal didn't win, some donors have come forward to help them secure Kindles.
The students knew when they applied for the grant it was a nationwide contest. Paula Zirm, their teacher, said she told them they were not going to win, but entering was a way to bring attention to what new technology exists and what students might be interested in.
"We'll give it a try," she recalled telling them.
Zirm said she thinks the students knew they hadn't won before Thanksgiving.
"They were OK. ... Many of the schools had very serious needs," she said.
Zirm said she got the information about the grant from another school district's gifted department and took the idea to her students. She said her students liked the idea.
They produced a video narrated by Zirm's husband and wrote an essay describing the need and what they would do if they won.
"She had all of us write a 500-word essay, and then she took bits and pieces of it and then uploaded it," said sixth-grader Cama Ingalls.
The selection process, which included online voting and a team of people to select some of the winners, started around the middle of October.
After the students learned their project wasn't selected, an anonymous donor gave the project $2,500.
"That's a remarkable (donation)," Zirm said.
Zirm said the donation came right before Christmas, and she waited awhile to tell her students because the donation had to be approved by the board of education.
She said her students felt like someone understood them.
"They really felt like they won," she said.
Zirm said the $2,500 was able to fund the purchase of 15 Kindles and 15 covers for them. She described a Kindle as an electronic reader that can have books loaded on it.
The donation, she said, created a revolution of generosity. The parent-teacher organization bought some of the books to load on them, and people have donated money to purchase books.
She also had loaded free books on the Kindles right away.
Zirm said so far, she is testing the Kindles on her class that wrote the grant, but she intends to write an agreement by the middle of March so anyone in the middle school could use them. If the project grew enough, it could go districtwide.
The sixth-grade accelerated English class has avid readers, she said.
"They just check it out for two weeks at a time," she said.
Ingalls estimated she has used a Kindle for a week and has read "The Jungle Book," "Alice in Wonderland," "Little Women" and "The Secret Garden."
She said using it is different than a book because she doesn't have to turn pages or go to the library.
"You don't have to wait for a book to come in," she said.