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Student video project puts Namao School on map

A video project created by Grade 9 students at Namao School has won third place in the “My Alberta School” competition, sponsored by the Alberta Teachers’ Association.

A video project created by Grade 9 students at Namao School has won third place in the “My Alberta School” competition, sponsored by the Alberta Teachers’ Association.

Last month, students and staff at Namao School were greeted with hundreds of messages posted and written throughout the school, each with positive sayings like “Dream like there is no tomorrow” and “Believe in yourself.”

The messages were a surprise to the entire school, save for the handful of Grade 9 students who had brainstormed the idea for a social studies project about what makes their school special.

“One of the things that came out is Namao has a great diversity, we have a lot of special needs students in our class. Just through the process, it really got kids thinking about what makes their school special,” said Thomas Holmes, a guidance counsellor who was involved in the project.

In pondering what makes Namao unique, Holmes said the students decided to give back to the school community.

“We had about 10 Grade 9 students stay after school and they put inspirational quotes on 1,200 Post-it Notes — just tons of different quotes,” he said.

“When all the students got off the bus, they were welcomed by all these inspirational, kind words from Grade 9 students. Nobody knew who it was.”

Reaction to the project was very positive, he said.

“What they started to do was take some of the Post-it Notes and put them on themselves, holding them up, telling other students ‘this is what was on my locker.’ Some of them started putting them up in the inside of their locker, just a lot of really neat buzz,” he said.

Holmes said a school in Ontario contacted him to say they had watched the video in a family studies class.

“They congratulated the kids and said they’d like to do something similar with their school,” he said.

He said the video has been viewed in Russia, Australia and England.

Photographs and video of the project, including the reactions of students when they arrived at school the following day, were used to create a video presentation called When Namao Students Smile.

The video was submitted to the My Alberta School competition, which aims to promote the diversity in Alberta’s public education system.

Last week, students and staff at Namao found out that When Namao Students Smile took third prize in the provincial contest. The school will receive a $1,000 school enhancement bursary from the Alberta Teachers’ Association.

“To come in third place, I know the kids are pretty excited,” Holmes said.

He said the video project has also brought the school community together.

“I know that it really helped the community understand that diversity is, first of all, something that is part of Namao culture and that it is important to highlight it because I think it makes people feel more comfortable at our school,” he said.

After the video was submitted, Holmes said 2,000 people checked out the school’s Facebook page.

In addition, former students at staff at Namao have become re-engaged with the school as a result of the video project.

“They come back and they get to relive what the culture at Namao School is like.”

To view When Namao Students Smile, go to and enter Namao School.