Hundreds of “Avatar” fans were star-struck when actor Sigourney Weaver and the director of the groundbreaking film, James Cameron walked onto the Brooklyn Tech auditorium stage to kick off a public speaking competition on Saturday, April 17th. But by the end of the day, it was the Hollywood stars who left dazzled by the performances of Brooklyn Tech’s students and teachers.

The goals of the “Words That Shook The World” campaign are to create a nation of what Mr. Cameron calls “eco-warriors” and to stress the importance of public speaking skills. Student finalists were asked to explain how they could apply an environmental lesson learned from “Avatar” to their communities. Teachers were challenged to demonstrate how they could apply these lessons in their classrooms.

Senior Merika Jones was awarded a $5,000 scholarship for her first place effort. Merika was inspired by this event to “show everyone what was happening to our world.” Sharanika Akter took home a $1,500 second place scholarship and Miao Miao Huang claimed the $1,000 third place scholarship.

Assistant Principal Marc Williams ’90 won top teacher honors by comparing the themes of “Avatar” to those of “Gulliver’s Travels.” Career and technical education teacher Patricia DePinto also drew rave reviews from the celebrity judges.

Cameron, who grew up in a small town in Ontario, Canada was clearly impressed with the opportunities available to Tech students as he toured school facilities including the Alumni Foundation funded digital animation lab. He stressed the importance of connecting “the four Es: education, energy, environment, economy,” and said that listening to students talk about environmental issues “gives me hope.”

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