Itís not your grandmotherís essay contest. A unique scholarship opportunity funded by KEVN-TV in Rapid City, S.D., invites high school students to apply for $2,500 toward their college tuition by submitting a video essay. Applications for the "Rising Star of the West Scholarship" come from the entire viewing area, and the top 20 students visit the KEVN studio to tape an additional essay. For a month, these essays play as segments during the 9 p.m. newscast. Viewers are invited to judge the students on content and presentation, then vote for their favorite online on the station Web site, where streaming video of all 20 students is featured. Four finalists emerge, each of whom records a five-part essay series that airs over the course of a week. For three months during the first half of the school year, KEVN gears students up for the on-air competition with news stories, recorded on-air promotions, newspaper ads, letters sent to principals at all high schools in the community, a press release and a Web site presence. The stationís news crew makes in-school visits as well. This yearís winner, Kaitlyn Hemmingson, plans to study mass communications at South Dakota State University in the fall.
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