As the students from Buffalo’s City Honors High School (which Newsweek magazine ranks number 11 among all the Nation’s high schools) walked into the office of Buffalo District Commander Lt. Col. Owen Beaudoin, they appeared unsure and hesitant as he welcomed them to the District and encouraged them to get comfortable.
The students were there to receive an award from the district commander for placing first in the Buffalo District-sponsored “March Movie Madness Competition," part of the district’s “Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics” (STEM) outreach program.
The six week long completion designed by Buffalo District EEO Officer Judy Philips, asked high school students to put together short but creative videos for the purpose of educating the general public about projects and issues that the Buffalo District is involved in.
The winning video titled, “The Great Lakes Invasion-Fish or Foe,” was an informational documentary about invasive aquatic species, specifically the Asian Carp, which is threatening to enter into the Great Lakes ecosystem.
"I am proud to present this award to you on behalf of the Corps of Engineers. You all did a great job. Who knows, maybe this award winning project will motivate one of you to choose a career in engineering or the sciences," said Beaudoin.
What made the City Honors video the winning video was its comprehensiveness. It provided the history of how the fish were introduced into the United States; how they migrated via pathways to the doorstep of the Great Lakes; why the carp would be detrimental to the Great Lakes ecosystem and how relatively unaware the American public is to this invasive species. The video was coherent, well put together and each of the sections flowed into one another, said Beaudoin, in explaining the judges’ decision.
“The students were extremely motivated to work on this project, even staying very late at school to edit! This was a great opportunity for the students to test their filmmaking abilities with no teacher guidance. I'm very pleased with the end result,” said Melisa Holden, librarian and International Baccelaureate program film teacher at City Honors.
The students enjoyed a long pizza lunch with the Lt. Col. Beaudoin during which he shared stories with the of his successful military career but more importantly, how he has met life’s challenges head on with grit and determination.
“It is important that this contest was an educational experience for the students, but even more important, it showed them that no matter what they do in life, if they try hard and do the best they can, they will be successful,” said Beaudoin.