It’s no surprise the community of Ashland, KY is proud of their Ashland Middle School Samsung Solve for Tomorrow winners.
On Thursday morning the town hosted a celebratory parade and rally for the students on the team, following their teammates’ and teachers’ return home from New York City where they pitched their project to a panel of judges in the contest’s final pitch event.
“It’s unbelievable. It’s been something they’ve been working toward all year. All of us throughout the community have been aware of this, especially through the online voting process. [So to see them win] gives us a huge sense of pride,” explained Derek Runyon, principal of Paul Blazer High School in Ashland. “Anytime something good happens in the district we celebrate it, but to be a national champion in anything, that’s as good as it gets so today was a no brainer for every school to get out there and celebrate these kids and their accomplishment.”
On ABC’s Good Morning America show last week, the team was announced as one of three winning teams in the 2018 Samsung Solve for Tomorrow competition, receiving a grand prize of $150,000 worth of Samsung technology for their school.
Following the parade, representatives of Samsung’s U.S. Corporate Citizenship team had another surprise for the students: The team is also the recipient of the contest’s “Community Choice Award,” wherein their families, friends and peers voted in the highest numbers for them to receive an extra $20,000 in technology for their school.
The announcement was made following the students’ police-escorted tour of the town to give residents a chance to cheer them on for their achievement.
“It’s clear these students had full support of the community through all phases of the contest and there’s no doubt that level of support was a big part of their success in the competition,” said Ann Woo, Sr. Director of Corporate Citizenship for Samsung Electronics America.
The annual contest encourages community impact by challenging 6th through 12th graders nationwide to use science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) skills to solve a community challenge.
The students met with their town’s law enforcement and medical teams regularly to test and receive feedback for their winning project.
“We told the students [before the final competition] that no matter what happens, we’re extremely proud of them for all their hard work, their dedication and the fact that they truly, truly want to make a difference,” said Michael Polley, the teacher that guided them on the project.
While the students’ main mission was to protect first responders in Ashland, after development and collaboration on their idea with community members and a mentoring session with Samsung NEXT employees during their trip to New York City, the group now wants to explore ways to put the device in the hands of many more first responders in communities across the country battling the residual effects of the nation’s opioid crisis.