Bookmans School Challenge
Begins Minus A Finalist
Apache Junction High School’s Gay Straight Alliance Club Withdraws, Leaving The $21,000 Contest At Nine Schools
An Apache Junction High School group in the The Apache Junction Unified School District has withdrawn from the Bookmans School Challenge.
By John Guzzon
Modern Times Magazine
Feb. 11, 2012 — The 2012 Bookmans School Challenge will begin accepting votes today for videos explaining the proposals of schools that have reached the semi-final round, but the competition is now without Apache Junction High School, after its Gay Straight Alliance club entry was withdrawn this week.
The Bookmans School Challenge recognizes Arizona schools for innovative and creative educational efforts. For the 2012 challenge, Bookmans received agricultural, academic and artistic proposals from schools across the state. Ten schools, including Apache Junction High School, were selected as semi-finalists and made videos explaining their proposal to the public. Videos began to be posted Monday and the last two were expected to be posted today with voting on the proposals running from Saturday to Feb. 19.
“(As schools struggle to meet their educational goals on restricted budgets, they manage to find creative and innovative ways to meet mandates while remaining true to their efforts to foster a life-long love of learning. Bookmans School Challenge is about celebrating school communities for going beyond rote measures. We are excited to see how these schools' videos will depict how they rose to the challenges facing them in the classroom. We think they will do all of Arizona proud,” said Sheila Kressler-Crowley, marketing director for Bookmans Entertainment Exchange.
Kressler-Cowley said that since the intent of the competition is to reward and acknowledge schools that rise to modern challenges, it is unfortunate that Apache Junction High School’s Gay Straight Alliance will not compete.
“In an age where the negative effects of bullying are becoming increasingly obvious, we found it refreshing that the school is actively working to promote acceptance and diversity. Unfortunately, after making a video highlighting the GSA, the school board decided not to allow Apache Junction to participate citing safety concerns for minors participating in the video. Though the video was re-shot without student participation, the school board continued to express the same concerns and would not support participation in the School Challenge, rendering AJHS ineligible for the $15,000 grand prize or any of the secondary prizes. We requested an official statement from the school board, but none has been provided at this time,” she said.
Brian Killgore, spokesman for the Apache Junction Unified School District, said district representatives will be made available for interview early next week and that the decision to withdraw from the competition was not exclusively made by the governing board. Killgore said the decision was made jointly by the club supervisor, the high school and the school district.
Regardless, the other nine schools competing — Apollo Middle School, Tucson; Brinton Elementary School, Mesa; Cortez High School, Phoenix; Flagstaff Arts & Leadership Academy, Flagstaff; Leupp Elementary School, Flagstaff; Manzo Elementary School, Tucson; Mountain Sky Middle School, Phoenix; Palo Verde Magnet Engineering and Technology High School, Tucson; Sewell Elementary School, Tucson — have their videos available at Bookmans.com.
The top three finalists will be announced Feb. 20 and the $15,000 first place 2012 Bookmans School Challenge winner is scheduled to be announced March 6.
The challenge was inspired by the established reading competition promoting childhood literacy, a life-long love of reading and with the goal of empowering students to read over two million books.
John Guzzon is editor of Modern Times Magazine.