Highlands Blog

Alabama Student Wins Future Technology Summit Essay Competition

Highlands School
Birmingham, Ala. — Highlands School, Birmingham’s progressive 4K-8th Grade independent school, is pleased to announce that 8th grade student, Andrew Glassford has been selected as the winner of the Future Technology Summit’s US Middle School Essay Competition. Five winners were selected from the United States and Israel, representing elementary, middle and high school grade levels. Glassford’s essay “A Blanket To Be Torched” was selected as the sole United States Middle School winner with students from California, Wisconsin, Louisiana and Arizona receiving honorable mentions. The contest received over 3,000 entries from over 300 schools.

Entrants were asked to reflect on how technology touches their lives and how rapid advancements might change the way we live, learn, work or connect with others in the future. Essays were judged on their creativity, depth of reflection and their organization and clarity. Mr. Glassford, in his submission, explored the common idea that technology is self-perpetuated. “Largely, people believe that technology is something that moves forward independent of human control. However, as the son of an IT director, I’ve been taught that we actually have far more control of the trajectory of technological advancement,” said Glassford. “I wanted to address how human influence determines the industries that will be impacted and devices that will be developed.”

The contest tied into a theme that Highlands’ Middle School Language Arts program had incorporated into writing assignments for the year. “This year, middle school students have investigated ideas surrounding the topic of Revolution. Technology, the theme of this essay contest, has been revolutionary for this generation of students,” says Highlands Middle School Language Arts Teacher, Lisa Lawrenz. “Therefore, when the opportunity was presented for students to participate in a real-world writing experience, I felt that the prompt and the experience fit perfectly with our curricular goals for the semester across grade levels.” Glassford’s piece also connected to his Capstone project on technology. The Highlands Capstone program is a year-long, individual thesis project centered around a particular passion or curiosity of each 8th grade student.

Highlands Head of School, Kavita Vasil introduced the competition to Mrs. Lawrenz as an engaging way for students to exercise their writing skills. “As we entered the 2017-2018 school year, it was the goal of the faculty and staff at Highlands to make every day an exciting learning opportunity, to stave off the routine that any school can fall into as the year progresses. This contest exemplified that goal,” notes Kavita Vasil. ”The opportunity for our students to showcase their ideas, creativity and hard work to the world will always be a priority.”

In February, Mr. Glassford will travel to Washington D.C. to be recognized with his fellow winners. They will have the opportunity to meet with technology giants, Steve Wozniak, Dr. Dennis Hong, Silvina Moschini and others. 

About Highlands School
Highlands School is an educationally progressive independent 4k-8th grade school and 6 weeks-3-year Family Center. Distinguished by its evidence-based, contemporary approach to education, Highlands’ faculty and staff partner with students and families throughout their educational trajectory to maximize student learning and whole-child development. Upon graduation from Highlands, students are prepared to thrive academically, professionally and socially in changing environments. Founded in 1958, Highlands is located in Birmingham, Alabama. For more information, visit www.highlandsschool.org.

About Future of Technology Summit
The Future of Technology Summit aims to spark conversation among today’s leaders on how rapid tech advancements will fundamentally alter the way we work in the next 5-10 years—and offer solutions for how we can prepare for these changes today. For more information, visit www.ftsummit.us.

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Highlands School, 4901 Old Leeds Road, Birmingham, AL 35213, (205) 956-9731
Highlands School's 'whole child' approach to education and commitment to academic excellence, creative expression, and leadership development prepare and motivate students in grades 4k through 8 to make a positive difference in an ever-changing world. Located in Birmingham, Alabama, Highlands School holds dual accrediation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and the Southern Associations of Independent Schools (SAIS).

For more information, visit www.highlandsschool.org.