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Snow Wars takes top award at region conference

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By Tom Wilmoth

    When Ryan Edwards put together the video announcement “Snow Wars,” alerting folks in Bedford County that students would have a day off due to snow, the announcement was well received.

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    Using a Star Wars theme, Edwards played off of the popular opening signature of the movie series in his video. Not only did the local public like it, the video went viral scoring more than 100,000 hits on social media.
    And now, Edwards has been recognized by his peers for his efforts, winning top honors in the social media category at an awards conference at the regional chapter of the National School Public Relations Association. The group’s Chesapeake Chapter honored the project at its annual communications conference held in Richmond Nov. 2.
    The video went up against school divisions from three states—Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia  and Washington D.C.—which includes some of the largest school divisions in the country. “I’m just really honored for our team that Bedford County could be showcased in this manner,” Edwards said.
    Many of those larger school divisions within the region have employees with dedicated responsibilities focused only on social media, while it is just one of many duties Edwards performs in his role as public relations and policy coordinator for Bedford County Public Schools. Social media is the most popular contest category and each division is allowed to submit a post from the previous year. In many ways it was a David vs. Goliath scenario, with David once again coming out as the victor.
    “I’m so grateful for all our parents and community members who value and appreciate the extra mile we try to go to make these days even more special and fun for them and their children,” Edwards said of the response to a series of videos he has produced over the past several years. “Ideas each year become harder and harder to come up with, so we’ll see if maybe this is the end for a while. It would be a pretty cool way to go out.”
    Edwards will serve as president-elect of the association next year and then as its president in 2020. That will be the first time in the Chesapeake Chapter’s history that a division the size of BCPS will have its representative serving in that capacity. “I’m very proud that Bedford County will be represented in that manner,” Edwards said.
    The two-day conference included speakers brought in to provide professional development to people involved with K-12 communications.
    Edwards produced three snow day announcement videos last year. “It’s something I have really enjoyed over the years,” he said of the productions.
    He won other awards for his efforts over the past few years, but this was the first time those efforts took top honors at the conference.