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McEvoy students create recruitment video game

Above: CROW logo, followed by the view inside the culinary classroom at McEvoy.
To play the game, follow this link:
    Students at the OCM BOCES McEvoy campus recently joined forces to create one of the most entertaining and engaging tools they could think of – a video game – to give players a virtual tour of the building and information about its Career & Technical Education (CTE) programs.
     Kolby Aitchison, a computer technology student from Cincinnatus, launched the project by working on a role-playing game (RPG) that has a pair of students getting off a bus at the state Route 13 campus in Cortland. Players lead the students around the winding McEvoy corridors and enter rooms where a simple click on a teacher offers pop-up explanations of programs for interested students.
     The video game itself was pretty impressive, said Jon Easton, Kolby’s computer tech instructor. In fact, it was selected as the best computer tech recruitment project by a panel of students and teachers at McEvoy.
     But the project reached new heights when Aitchison and other students worked on it so they could participate in a regional “CNY Innovation Challenge” held April 8 at Le Moyne College in Syracuse.
     Students took on the task of inventing something that would specifically “increase understanding of various concepts” and “help students determine a career path,” two of the challenges presented by the Innovation Challenge.
    Aitchison joined Triston Brown, a construction trades student from Homer, and Luz “G” Torres, a computer tech student from Homer, in figuring out a portable and practical way to bring the video game to eight surrounding school districts – districts whose students might be interested in enrolling in programs at OCM BOCES.
     Each of the students took a different role in project. Kolby was the video game designer. Tristin designed, built, and stained the physical cabinet. G was responsible for building the computer within the cabinet that would run the game Kolby created. In the end, students interested in OCM BOCES could play the video game like any other arcade game.    
     In their statement about the project, the boys made it clear that showing potential students a PowerPoint presentation – the current method of sharing information – was far "too boring" and “distracting” to students who "struggled to pay attention."
     They knew the districts’ guidance counselors needed something far more exciting and interactive to get students interested in the huge number of CTE programs at McEvoy, including culinary, automotive technology, welding, cosmetology, health occupations and more.
     “The idea of creating a video game was perfect,” they wrote.
     Their project even had an acronym, CROW, which stands for Career Recruitment Opportunity Workstation. The students asked the welding students at McEvoy to use their plasma cutter to cut out the logo and an OCM BOCES sign to use on the arcade cabinet. They asked students in the automotive collision program to paint it.
     Other assistance came from a mentor for the CNY Innovation Challenge, Gail Banach, who works as director of public education and communications for the Upstate New York Poison Center at Upstate Medical University in Syracuse. She encouraged the students to document their work, research costs for the project and explore ways to advertise it to earn more points in the competition.
     Students presented their project at Le Moyne but did not place in the top spots among 44 submitted projects, Easton said. Still, he was impressed with their willingness to go the extra mile in not only creating the product, but for taking the time to make it better and present it to a group of strangers on a Saturday morning in a city 40 miles from Cortland.
     He was also impressed that the students did all the work themselves, including the task of getting students in other programs to assist with the welding and painting.
     “The students really did this on their own,” Easton said. “I was very proud.” 
Below left and middle: Students Kolby Aitchison of Cinnatus, left, and Tristin Brown of Homer at the CNY Innovation Challenge with their project.
Below right: Students with McEvoy Computer Tech Instructor Jon E
aston and mentor Gail Branach of the Upstate New York Poison Center