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St. Raphael wins $5,000 in online video contest

By: Heidi Ulrichsen - Sudbury Northern Life

 | Mar 17, 2014 - 3:23 PM |
Students in the primary life skills class at St. Raphael Catholic Elementary School won $5,000 in an online video contest. Supplied photo.

Students in the primary life skills class at St. Raphael Catholic Elementary School won $5,000 in an online video contest. Supplied photo.

School may use prize to purchase iPads for life skills students

St. Raphael Catholic Elementary School students were ecstatic March 17 as they learned via the school's PA system they'd won $5,000 in an online video contest, the school's principal said.

“You could hear them all yelling and clapping,” Tricia Dowdall-Cirelli said. “They were just really happy.”


The contest was open to North American schools serving students with intellectual disabilities, and sponsored by the United Commercial Travellers (UCT), a non-profit financial services membership organization.

People were asked to vote online for their favourite school.

St. Raphael won second place in the UCT Gives Back Again contest, and will be presented with a $5,000 cheque at a school assembly next month. The first-place winner, Eldon High School in Eldon, Missouri, receives $10,000.

It was teacher Elissa Zuliani who entered the contest last year while on contract at St. Raphael, working with the school's primary life skills class.

She filmed her students displaying their strengths. For example, one little girl is playing soccer in the video, and another colouring.

The video also shows the students standing in line, holding pieces of paper with words written on them, together conveying messages such as “I'm a valued member of society” and “Don't doubt my capabilities.”

While the school was initially aiming to purchase a smart board for the primary life skills students with the prize money, the $5,000 they won isn't quite enough to cover the cost.

Dowdall-Cirelli said they're instead looking at purchasing iPads for them. “The kids love technology,” she said.

Zuliani said she's overwhelmed by the support the community has shown her students.

“All I did was put the video out there, and it was up to the community to actually get on the computer and do the voting,” she said. “I'm so grateful for everyone to have taken the time to do that.”

Zuliani said she hopes the contest has served to draw attention to local programs for disabled students.

Dowdall-Cirelli also praised for the community for its support of the school, as well as for Zuliani for entering the contest in the first place.

“She did it because she's a good person and a good teacher,” she said. “She wanted to give back.”
Heidi Ulrichsen

Heidi Ulrichsen

Staff Writer

@heidi_ulrichsen

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