How cool it must be to be a fifth-grader at Southwestern Elementary School.

More than 100 students at the school are learning new ways to tell stories. They are part of the school's SWJCS Star Productions, a project for high-ability students that incorporates technology and creativity.

This semester, students have created more than 50 videos for the organization's YouTube channel. They create about 10 new videos each week. You can see those videos at

Teacher Shannon Dattilo heads up the program. The students enjoy the project, but Dattilo knows how much more there is to the exercise than just creating videos.

Dattilo, who teaches all high-ability students at the school, has taught the children to use the tools of writing, acting, editing and directing to produce a well-structured story.

"It's fun as teachers to see the kids with their hobbies," Dattilo said. "We learn about the kids, and they get to share something special as well."

The goal is include every student in the school in a least one project this year and to also publish a newspaper that prints once a semester.

It seems as if we are blasted almost daily with information that suggests our schools are in trouble. Certainly, there is work to be done, but programs such as this one, and teachers who are always exploring new ways to inspire their students make us confident that our schools are on the right track.