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Norwalk Students Enter The Shark Tank To Pitch Ideas To Improve Schools

Katrall Clay and Aasim Vhora pitch their ideas for a tech shop during the Norwalk Education Foundation's Shark Tank Competition. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue
Mahika Jhangiani presents her proposal to purchase training manikins to teach CPR. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue
Solenne Barclay discusses buying board games for kids to play during indoor recess. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue
The judges in the NEF Shark Tank competition listen to the students' proposals. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue

NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk students got a chance to pitch their ideas to improve their schools during the Norwalk Education Foundation’s Shark Tank Competition.

The competition was inspired by the popular show “Shark Tank” and was co-sponsored by Fairfield County’s Community Foundation. A total of $3,000 in funding will be distributed to fund classroom innovation ideas by students who want to improve their school and create a better environment for learning. The ideas ranged from areas of academics, extracurricular activities, social and emotional well-being, physical health and nutrition or safety.

The proposals were researched, composed and submitted by students, and the final 14 proposals were invited to present their ideas for final judging Tuesday night at the Music Theatre of Connecticut in Norwalk.

A panel of judges consisted of state Rep. Fred Wilms, Karen Galbo of People’s United Community Foundation, Barbara Cafero of Xerox Corp. and Liz Reid, board chair of the NEF.

After the students explained their proposals, they took questions from the judges on how their ideas would improve school life for their fellow students.

The final 14 proposals were:

  • Camille Barlcay, Marvin Elementary: Set up a wildlife camera and bird feeder so students could observe nature.
  • Edwin and Shawn Gregory, Cranbury Elementary: Purchase chess boards and books to form a chess club.
  • Solenne Barclay, Marvin Elementary: Purchase board games for students to play with during indoor recess.
  • Grant Sattler and Max Savona, Rowayton Elementary: Upgrade kits and equipment for the school’s Lego robotics club.
  • AT Girl Group (Ashley Orozco, Chloe Ortolano, Caroline Desmonts, Laura Gallagher), Ponus Ridge Middle School: Clean up the girls’ locker room by removing graffiti, adding curtains, and painting a mural.
  • Ethan Barclay, Nathan Hale Middle School: Install a weather station on the school that can collect data and transmit it to school computers so students can study weather conditions.
  • Heather Bjerke, Ponus Ridge Middle School: Remove graffiti from the girls’ locker room and repaint it.
  • Leonel Gonzalez, Roton Middle School: Create a Markerspace in the school library where kids can have a creative environment to work on technology and innovation.
  • Ava Rosato, Norwalk High School: Host fundraisers and speakers to raise awareness and money for the non-profit A Leg To Stand On.
  • Samantha Bartush, Norwalk High School: Buy new equipment and establish a non-profit status for the Norwalk Junior Field Hockey Program.
  • Katrall Clay and Aasim Vhora, Norwalk High School: Set up a tech shop for students to purchase supplies and devices for the Norwalk Early College Academy.
  • Mahika Jhangiani, Norwalk High School: Purchase training manikins and provide training for students and faculty to learn CPR.
  • Gloriana Restrepo, Norwalk High School: Finance a school store where students can purchase clothing with school logos and mascots on them.
  • Claire Rudden and Anthony Grachelli, Norwalk high School: Purchase a point of sale system for the school’s student-run Little Bear Café.

“I was blown away by the way the kids created their proposals and the way they presented their ideas,” said Marge Costa, interim executive director of NEF.

The judges will begin deliberating and decide on which proposals they want to fund. The winning proposals will receive up to $500 to fund their ideas. Winners will be notified by April 6, and the checks will be presented at the NEF Spelling Bee on April 9.

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