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Published:June 2nd, 2006 06:17 EST
Florida Virtual School Students Win International Diplomacy Competition written by a Jodie Pozo Olano

Florida Virtual School Students Win International Diplomacy Competition written by a Jodie Pozo Olano

By Dr. Yvonne Marie Andres (Mentor)

“Golden Bridges: Connecting People to Peace” Project Aims to Increase Awareness of Global Humanitarian Efforts of the United Nations

Orlando, FL (June 1, 2006) – Leveraging technology, an innovative learning initiative and a passion to build a better global community, three Florida Virtual School ( students won the U.S. State Department’s 2006 Doors to Diplomacy Award for their web-based project, “Golden Bridges: Connecting People to Peace.

In its fifth year of existence, the 2006 Doors to Diplomacy Award, which is co-sponsored by the Department of State and Global SchoolNet, three FLVS students were one of two teams to receive the international award for creating a web site that highlighted the importance of international affairs and diplomacy. The competition attracted 305 student teams ranging in age from 15-18 from 46 countries. The FLVS team was the first K-12 online school to receive the award since the inception of the program.

“Based on the time and effort displayed by these three young ladies, I can say without a doubt that they have a strong passion to learn and they certainly have the skills to succeed in the 21st century. Not only were they dedicated to the project, but because of the virtual nature of FLVS, they had to develop communication strategies, timelines and project management skills to help overcome the obstacle of not being able to work face-to-face,” said Sherry McAuliffe, FLVS AP History teacher. “From start to finish, this project exemplifies the impact and importance of on-line learning and underscores the essence of learning – passion, purpose, encouragement and success. It has been my pleasure and honor to guide these young ladies down this uncharted path to the 21st century and to success in this competition.”

The three FLVS students, Felicia Hollerman (18), Ashley Hoffman (16), and Katie Olsen (15) decided to build upon their passion for international relations and foreign affairs by entering the Doors to Diplomacy competition. As part of the competition, the students had to build a web site to teach about past foreign policy initiatives and significant historical events in diplomacy. The FLVS team’s complete project, “Golden Bridges,” includes engaging, interactive activities such as quizzes, crossword puzzles, a history of the United Nations, resources, interactive maps and a timeline charting the evolution of the United Nations.

"When we thought about our topic for this competition, we felt that acknowledging the meaning behind the phrase "Doors to Diplomacy" was an essential ingredient. It was this focus that help guide the creation of "Golden Bridges," said Felicia Hollerman, FLVS student and Golden Bridges Project Director.  “And, focusing on the United Nations seemed natural because it is a prime example of diplomatic dealings or, in other words, opening the doors to international relations, which we believe is truly a noble cause in a world coming to terms with globalization.”

As part of the competition, the students were charged with becoming ambassadors to their peers as well as to the local and global communities. To meet the competition requirements, the FLVS Golden Bridges team participated in a Model UN Conference, wrote newsletter articles, organized a student debate, and sent materials to public libraries across Florida to encourage participation in their Golden Bridges initiative and become community ambassadors.  

“The commitment and effort displayed by the team of FLVS students is astounding. I applaud them for winning such a prestigious international competition,” said FLVS President & CEO Julie Young. “Not only am I proud of our students, but this award recognizes the leadership and commitment of our teachers and demonstrates how powerful online learning can be in developing future leaders.”

As a reward for their efforts and commitment to international diplomacy, each student member of the Golden Bridges team will receive a $2,000 scholarship. In addition, the winning coaches and schools will each receive a $500 cash award. Judging was performed by peers and educational professionals, with the final selections made by a team of State Department judges from the Bureaus of Public Affairs and Educational and Cultural Affairs.  To learn more about Doors to Diplomacy, go to

About Florida Virtual School

Florida Virtual School (FLVS) is an established leader in developing and providing virtual K-12 education solutions to students throughout the country. A nationally recognized e-Learning model, FLVS founded in 1997 was the country’s first, state-wide Internet-based public high school. Today, FLVS serves middle and high school students with more than 80 courses. FLVS is governed by an independent educational entity with a gubernatorial appointed board and is the only public school where funding is tied directly to student performance. Additional information can be found at