Return to Newsroom

Third-Grade Student Finds her Voice as Grand Prize Winner in Scotties (U.S.) National “TREES ROCK” Video Contest

Sarah’s special story wins $10,000 for her school and $5,000 for herself.
Lone Oak, Texas: Third-grader Sarah Shreve’s teachers at Lone Oak Elementary School had never heard her speak – until a couple weeks ago.  Sarah made a comment just after she found out that she had won a national video contest. 

Sarah suffers from a severe anxiety disorder called selective mutism; but when she entered the Scotties (U.S.) Facial National “Trees Rock” Video Contest, things began to change, says her mother Melissa.  After a month of online voting and nearly 100,000 votes from the public, Sarah received a call from Scotties (U.S.) telling her that she had won $10,000 for her school and $5,000 for herself.  “This was a contest that Sarah felt passionate about,” says Melissa.  “When we got the call about the judging, Sarah marched over to the phone and spoke into it, saying `We have an update for Team Sarah – WE WON!’”  (One of the tools Sarah uses for therapy is a phone, which she speaks into without anyone on the other end.)

Melissa credits Sarah’s breakthrough to the confidence she has gained through the “Trees Rock” video contest, in which third, fourth, and fifth graders were challenged to create a short video about the importance of trees in their lives.  During the voting period, it truly was a “Team Sarah” mentality in Lone Oak.  As the smallest community out of all the top 12 finalists, Lone Oak came together with a “don’t mess with Texas” attitude, as Judy Steadham, Lone Oak Elementary Principal recalls.  “There is a real alliance between the school and the community in Lone Oak.  We had students who graduated 20 years ago reaching out to Sarah to let her know they were voting for her.”

And, there was more support -- everywhere.  Sarah inspired a school employee to use her personal time to individually call people in the town and walk them through the voting process.  Sarah even received letters of support, including a very touching one from a man who graduated from Lone Oak High School in 1954.  At an assembly held in her honour, a very surprising thing happened – her efforts rendered many speechless and others to tears!

The prize money will be used to upgrade the technology at Lone Oak Elementary.  A school with very few resources will now have the ability to provide students with laptops and tablets.

During the video contest, students were encouraged to be as creative as possible in their entries – for example, by creating a poem, a play, a speech, a song, or a dance. After rigorous scrutiny by a panel of judges, entries from around the country were narrowed down to the 12 most compelling in the categories of clarity of message, relativity to the theme, and creativity.  From there the contest went to a national vote.

Watch Sarah’s grand prize-winning [video].

Scotties (U.S.) is deeply committed to being a sustainable company with their 3-to-1 promise. This means that for every one tree they use, they plant three in its place.  Over the last 50 years, Scotties’ (U.S.) parent company, J.D. Irving, Limited has planted over 877 million trees in North America.

About Scotties (U.S.) Facial Tissue:
Scotties (U.S.) Facial Tissue products are made from trees from J.D. Irving, Limited’s forests. As part of its award-winning commitment to responsible forest management, J.D. Irving, Limited plants seedlings every spring and summer to reforest the woodlands.  In the past 50+ years, JDI has planted over 940million trees.  Since 2001, JDI’s forests have been certified by The Sustainable Forestry Initiative Inc. (“SFI”).  In the U.S., the company’s forests are also certified under the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC® C041515).  For more information, please visit