RbmsrapvidEighth-graders Michelle Reyes, in white, and Anisa Abella watch the RBMS video at Monday night’s council meeting.

This time last year, the kids at the Red Bank Middle School were jamming on a video entry for a contest that might put $15,000 worth of new learning technology into the grades six-through-eight facility.

Teachers had heard about the contest only days before the deadline. But with an all-out effort by the students, the school put together a video titled “Use Ya Tech,” a parody of Eminem‘s “Lose Yourself,” that served as its entry.

The school finished sixth among 66 schools nationwide — out of the money, but jazzed at the potential for doing better next time in the competition, sponsored by Interwrite Technology, a maker of classroom electronics.

Well, next time is here, the top prize is now $25,000 in gear, and RBMS is back with another high-energy, must-see piece of work.

And this time, even the superintendent gets down.

This year’s entry is entitled, appropriately, “This Year,” and it features an original song written for the occasion.

Chris Ippolito, a second-year photography, arts & culture instructor, and music teacher Holcombe Hurd guided the project. Last night, they brought the two-and-a-half-minute video, and about a dozen students, to the bimonthly meeting of the Red Bank Council for a well-received screening.

Says Ippolito, via email:

its lyrics speak to the fact that our outdated technology really hasn’t progressed much since last year and we really need to win the grand prize of $25,000 in gear, software and training to make our learning fun and engaging this year.

Among the highlights: Superintendent Laura Morana in refrigerator-sized sunglasses providing backing vocals, and a must-see cameo by longtime Red Bank Register editor Art Kamin.

From Ippolito:

It wasn’t hard to convince Mrs. Morana to perform at all. She has always been a big supporter of our arts-based initiatives and it was great to see her in front of the camera — I think it makes our video even more special. As far as Art Kamin’s involvement goes, he has been a fixture at Red Bank Middle School for many years, serving as a substitute teacher in all grade levels. He is very well-liked by the students and staff and can hardly walk anywhere now without kids saying, “Word, Mr. Kamin!”

The imagery and lyrics also make frequent reference to Tony Brewer. Who’s he?

When we all sat down to write the lyrics to the song, we looked to the prize package offered for inspiration. In addition to a Dell Latitude laptop, Thinkronize software, $1000 cash and much more, winners receive a day with Tony Brewer. We thought, “Who’s Tony Brewer, anyway?” And the theme to our song was born. Turns out that Tony Brewer is a consultant who works with schools in integrating technology. His image appears throughout our video (we hope he has a sense of humor!)

The entry deadline was last Friday; judges are now reviewing entries and deciding which videos will make the top five in each grade category — K-5, 6-8, and 9-12. Online voting by the public will then be opened to the public.

Says Ippolito:

Right now, we are just trying to generate page views, comments and star ratings while keeping our fingers crossed. We are very proud of what we have created together and hope you can help us out by spreading the word.


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