Student and teacher winners selected for 2022 “Your Voice is Power” national remix competition 

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More than 3,000 pre-collegiate students have been learning code, making beats, and promoting equity through the “Your Voice is Power” (YVIP) national remix competition since its launch in 2020 through a partnership between the Georgia Institute of Technology, Amazon Future Engineer, and YELLOW, a non-profit established by Pharrell Williams to EVEN THE ODDS through education. For the 2022 competition, five high school students were named grand prize winners, each receiving a $5,000 scholarship or grant to start a business. A group of five teachers were also chosen to receive $1,000 each for going above and beyond in their instruction.

“‘Your Voice is Power’ is a unique, multidisciplinary experience that explores how coding, music, and entrepreneurship can all be pathways to social justice,” said Roxanne Moore, project lead for YVIP and senior research engineer at Tech’s Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics, and Computing (CEISMC)

The competition is open to K-12 students in which they are invited to create remixes of songs by Williams, Alicia Keys, and Khalid using EarSketch, a web-based digital audio workstation that uses Python or JavaScript to compose music. The platform was developed at Tech in 2011 by co-creators Jason Freeman, School of Music chair, and Brian Magerko, professor of digital media in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication.

Approximately 1,800 students representing 30 U.S. states and Guam submitted their remixes with reflections on the songs’ messages about equity. The entries were judged on music, message, and coding competency. 

“Judging the ‘Your Voice is Power’ remix competition has been a true pleasure. The song submissions and personal reflection messages that speak to social issues of the past and present are a powerful combination,” said Jen Driscoll, principal product manager with Amazon in the Community. “Engaging students in thoughtful work on these topics and providing a creative outlet to share their work with others inspires change on multiple levels.”

For example, student winner Paul Coliflores said he attributes his motivation for entering the competition to paving the way for others to consider computer science as a viable career choice.  This is the first time a student from Guam was named a grand prize winner. “Through my journey in learning computer science, and coming across this competition, I learned that even if I can make it this far, others like me can do the same,” he said. “There are intelligent people here who I know for sure can succeed in this field, but they sell themselves short because they do not believe in themselves. One day I plan to change that by spreading the message that computer science can truly lead to equity.”   

YVIP includes a related project-based curriculum consisting of five to six modular lesson plans and other supplemental material for middle school and high school students. The goal of this educational initiative is to encourage more K-12 students from diverse populations to enter the world of computer science. 

Teacher winner Laurie O’Brien said that implementing the YVIP curriculum in this iteration of the competition created community among her students. “Through the remixes, students who otherwise would never talk to each other were praising each other's work,” explained O’Brien who teaches computer science at Keaau High School in Hawaii. “They gained confidence to play their mixes for the class and get peer feedback. Allowing my students opportunities to share and listen to each other helped to create a positive and fun learning environment.”

While most of the competitors were high school students, there were a fair amount of middle school and elementary students who submitted remixes. More than 64 percent of participants had never used the EarSketch platform before and 28 percent had never coded before this experience. 

“EarSketch, from years of research, has shown an impact in engaging students in computing by creating an authentic learning environment that has personal and real-world relevance in both computational and music domains,” said Sabrina Grossman, CEISMC program director and YVIP curriculum developer.  “‘Your Voice is Power’ builds on this work and continues to provide the opportunity for students to personally express themselves through code.  The implementation of these programs in the classroom can significantly impact students’ intention to persist in the computer science field.”

Student winners include:

  • Paul Coliflores, Grade 11, Simon A. Sanchez High School, Yigo, Guam (Teacher mentor: Elaine Cortez)
  • Mandy Deng, Grade 10, Lane Tech College Prep High School, Chicago, IL (Teacher mentor: Brenda Remess)

  • David Deutsch, Grade 9, University City High School, San Diego, CA (Teacher mentor: David West)

  • Christopher Garcia, Grade 10, James A. Foshay Learning Center, Los Angeles, CA (Teacher mentor: Darryl Newhouse)

  • Josie Paik, Grade 12, Agoura High School, Agoura Hills, CA (Teacher mentor: Joseph Keays)

Teacher winners include:

  • Joseph Keays, Agoura High School, Agoura Hills, CA

  • Darryl Newhouse, James A. Foshay Learning Center, Los Angeles, CA

  • Laurie O’Brien, Keaau High School, Keaau, HI

  • Nicole Macaluso, Samuel Mickle Elementary School, Mickleton, NJ

  • Amy Wozniak, Lane Tech College Prep High School, Chicago, IL

For additional details about all the winners, please visit: A video featuring Williams delivering a congratulatory message to the student winners can be viewed on CEISMC's YouTube channel.

The next round of competition will go live Oct. 23. Students and teachers are encouraged to start exploring the EarSketch platform in preparation for the competition. For more information, please visit

—Joëlle Walls, CEISMC Communications

—Video produced by Randy Trammell, CEISMC Communications


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