EAST Brings Home a Victory


Brianna Lambert

With the welcoming of spring has come showers of praise for the Buffalo Island community. In early March, the BIC EAST program made their way to Hot Springs, Arkansas to attend the 2017 EAST Conference.  For the past three years, EAST students have been reaching out to the BIC community using the technology they possess to make a difference with meaningful projects. There are three areas that good student projects fall into within the EAST program: Student Growth, Project Sophistication and Innovation, and Community and Collaboration. Being successful in each of these areas is what programs across the United States strive for. The program recognized at the annual EAST conference that displays success in all of these categories receives the overall Founder’s Finalist Award.

This year, Buffalo Island EAST team went to the conference with a goal to bring home this prestigious award, the highest possible award that can be earned. Although the school’s program is still relatively new, the students succeeded in bringing home the ultimate victory, competing with 236 programs: the Founder’s Finalist Award.

While all of the projects showcased at conference were responsible for winning the award, one of these project also won its own category. Cadyn Qualls and Logan Lawrence teamed up to assure that a girl within their community would have a Christmas that would never be forgotten.  Qualls and Lawrence strived to boost the self-esteem of young girls by displaying differences in a positive light. They reached out to a young girl within the community, Hannah Hawkins. Hannah has been battling Transverse Myelitis for the majority of her life. She now walks with a crutch, and thanks to the two students, her doll now has its own crutch to walk with as well.


They used 3D printing software to design and print the miniature crutch in several different colors. They then teamed up with Santa to create a letter that explained how her differences make her unique, and that she is beautiful the way she is. The doll, Kit, now travels everywhere with Hannah, displaying both matching crutches and outfits.


“The vision behind this project was to promote a positive self-image for younger girls, and we feel that using dolls in the process of that can be really effective because they shape how young girls see themselves. Girls often grow up comparing themselves to these toys,” Qualls said.


Despite the nerves that the EAST team felt as they waited anxiously for the results, they maintained  hopeful and positive attitudes. The moment when BIC was announced as the winner of the award, the high emotion began to pour out.


“It was such a relief. It was like a weight lifted off our chests because we all just wanted it so bad. It was  awesome because Alex and Drew were our presenters and you could literally see all their stress just completely fall off of their shoulders. I wish I could bring our entire school to the EAST conference because you really don’t understand how big of an award it is until you’re actually there,”  Kensie Walker, a member of the  Conference team, said.


After a stressful preparation of different videos, presentations, and projects, EAST adviser Mrs. Jill Sanders had been relieved and extremely happy with her students after winning the award. There are so many projects that went into the conference such as: Adopt a Grandfriend, Veteran’s Cemetery Mapping, and a prosthetic hand for one of BIC’s own teachers. A few of them were even finalists in their own categories as well. EAST left the BIC campus with a positive attitude and the hopes to win the award, and they achieved it.