Aspects of annual event to take place online because of current covid concerns
By Ally Lanasa, Staff Writer
(Jan. 14, 2021) Since 1975, Worcester County’s public schools have celebrated students’ creative communication through media and technology to local and global communities with the annual Media Expo.
“In the late 1970s, the Maryland state library media organization began promoting media production in Maryland public schools,” said Deb Peccia, a retired county schools media specialist. “The first few years of competition were film festivals and were celebrated at the county, state, and national levels. Technologies that were present at the times were filmstrips, videotaping using Beta and VHS, 8mm film, and U-film. The film competition became a media festival in the 1980s, when photography was added as an entry category.”
In the 1990s, the media festival became Tech Fest with the advent of computer-generated entries, Peccia added.
Although state and national competitions no longer occur, county school librarians continue to celebrate student work at the local level with what is now the Media Expo.
According to the website, Media Expo aims to: “inspire students to try innovative forms of technology as a way to express their talents, knowledge, and understandings; foster a sense of pride and confidence in their technological skills; encourage collaboration between students, teachers, parents and community and allow community members the opportunity to have a greater understanding of [the county school system’s] continuing technology goals.”
There are six categories in Media Expo: “Computer Programming,” “On Screen,” “Online,” “On Paper,” “Through CAD” and “Through the Lens.”
“The Media Expo categories have evolved over the years to better fit the changing technology in our students’ lives,” said Jennifer Beach, the Pocomoke Middle School media specialist.
“Most recently, ‘Computer Programming’ and Computer Aided Design (CAD) categories were added, allowing us to showcase our students digital design skills,” she continued. “Even categories that have been part of Media Expo since its inception, such as ‘Through the Lens,’ have evolved to include digital enhancements.”
According to the website, “Through the Lens” entries may be the work of an individual, a group or a class. If students from more than one grade division work on an entry, the entry must be entered in the grade division of the oldest student participating.
Students are grouped into grade level bands for each category: PK-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12.
All entries must be submitted using the online entry form at https://www.wcpsmediaexpo.com.
Each Worcester public school with a student population less than 500 can submit four entries in each grade division of each competition. Public schools with a population over 500 in each age division may add an entry for each additional 100 students.
Media Expo entries are due Jan. 15 for Pocomoke Elementary School and Ocean City Elementary School. The other 12 public schools in the county are accepting entries until Jan. 20.
For more information about project deadlines, visit https://www.wcpsmediaexpo.com/schools.
Beach said each year, county students submit over 400 entries to Media Expo.
Virtual entry judging will take place between Feb. 11 and Feb. 18.
Jack Cleveland, librarian at Pocomoke High School, said judging will be based on how the content achieves purpose, how suitable the content is to the audience, creativity and originality, organization and structure, overall effectiveness and presentation and appropriate design techniques and resources.
“Media Expo judges are community members who volunteer their time each year to evaluate and provide feedback to our students,” Cleveland said.
He added that the judges are professionals involved in areas of journalism, photography and graphic design, as well as members of the schools staff and faculty.
Brittany Tignor, librarian at Snow Hill High School, said the event coordinators are staying true to traditions while adapting for coronavirus concerns.
“This year, we are still providing students an opportunity to share their work with the community and receive recognition for their hard work, but all events will be held virtually,” Tignor said. “From 3-6 p.m. on Feb. 25, students, families, and community members will be able to view projects and entries and participate in a virtual event.”
The county school system librarians will moderate the chat of the virtual event.
“At 6 p.m., the award ceremony will begin,” she added. “Gold and silver medal winners will be celebrated during a Facebook premiere event. Winning entries will be highlighted, and students will receive their medals from the librarians following the ceremony.”
In addition, Worcester County media specialists recognize one or more students with The Media Specialists’ Award.
“This award is reserved for any entry of exceptional quality or an entry which demonstrates the use of technology in a highly creative or sophisticated way to suit its purpose,” said Beau Williams, librarian at Snow Hill Middle School. “The award may also be given to a student whose body of work in the Worcester County Media Expo has shown continuous growth and excellence.”