Three Comox Valley students are $500 richer after winning the School District 71 Ethical Sexual Behaviour Meme contest.
The contest was open to all Valley secondary students from Grades 8 through 12 and ran throughout March.
The 200-plus entries were initially judged by a group of secondary students from School District 68 (Nanaimo-Ladysmith) before the finalists were determined by a panel of teachers, administrators, counsellors, and parents. The three most consistently voted entries were then deemed the winners by the contest organizer.
The winning entries came from Grade 8 Lake Trail Middle School student David Longoria, Grade 11 Highland Secondary student David Schorno, and Grade 12 GP Vanier Secondary student Tory Kajak.
Sexual health educator Dr. Claire Vanston, who has delivered much of SD71’s sexual health curriculum for the last decade, organized the contest.
“Part of the high school curriculum for quite some time now has been creating an awareness around ethical sexual behaviour — the understanding of sexual consent and things like that,” she said.
Vanston said reflecting the importance of sexual consent and championing ethical sexual behaviour were key aspects of the contest.
“It seemed important with #metoo and things like that that we actually do more — to try and reach out more and make it more relevant to young people other than just the content they’re getting in the classroom,” she said.
Considering the prevalence of memes in youth culture, Vanston said the format of the contest was purposefully chosen to reach as many students as possible.
(According to webopedia.com, a meme is a “concept or idea that spreads virally from one person to another via the Internet.” The most common meme is an “image of a person or animal with a funny or witty caption”).
“In the old days, you’d have students write essays or something like that,” said Vanston. “I wanted to reach as many students in an area directly relevant to them. Of course, social media was one of them and memes are hot right now, so it seemed like a good approach.”
Students submitted 224 memes in total. GP Vanier students submitted the most entries, as a result winning $250 to go toward its digital arts and media photography clubs or programs.
The $1,750 in funding for the winners came from the B.C. government’s Civil Forfeiture Crime Prevention and Crime Remediation grant program.
Vanston said the winning entries will be displayed digitally through various social media channels and the school district website.