Award winner
Christopher Reif, an 11th grader at Lawton High School and member of the Fort Sill Youth Center, polishes the skills that won him the regional Boys & Girls Club of America tech digital arts festival.

FORT SILL, Okla.--A Fort Sill teen at the youth center was named the winner of the regional Boys & Girls Club of America tech digital arts festival and will compete for a national prize in the photo tech category.

BGCA named Christopher Reif, an 11th grader at Lawton High School and a member of the Youth Center, the regional winner in its 10th Annual Club Tech Digital Arts Festivals competition for his entry in the photo tech category. As a regional winner, Reif, 17, will move on to represent Southwest region at the national level of competition for the 16-18 age group.

Reif learned about the contest at the Youth Center from A.J. Byerly, the computer lab tech at the center. Reif takes photos for the Youth Center and he is also a photographer for his school newspaper and yearbook.

"A.J. told me about the contest and encouraged me to enter. He told me exactly what the club wanted for entries and then I went around the center and took photos of several of my friends 'showing good character.' I selected the photos to use on the poster and then A.J. helped me with the wording for the poster," said Reif. "The words on the poster were to help make my point. I found out I won from A.J. when I went to the center. I won a $50 Best Buy gift card for the regional contest."

Reif's poster creation, entitled Showing Good Character, showcased his creativity and tech skills learned at the Fort Sill Youth Center. The entry will now compete against other regional winners and be judged by a panel of national experts.

National teen winners receive an expenses-paid summer trip that includes sightseeing and job-shadowing experiences. In years past, winners have visited colleges and the offices of large corporations such as Microsoft, Comcast and Best Buy to get a behind-the-scenes look at potential careers.

Reif has been taking photos for three years but he always wanted to photograph things and people around him. "I liked taking photos when I was younger when I would look at photos and think 'I wanted to take a photo like that.' My parents let me use their film camera and then they bought me a Nikon Cool Pix digital camera and I started getting better. I took a lot of pictures of birds and trees. They recently got me a Canon Rebel digital camera and I really enjoy taking photos with it," he said.

Reif, who has been a member of the Youth Center for over two years, has also placed first in a regional 4H competition and he placed 6th and 8th in state competitions.

Reif was in the Military Child Club at Eisenhower School when he learned about the center and the designated buses to take students from school to the center. Although he now lives on post in walking distance to the center, he says he continues to come to the center because he has friends there and because the staff members are all really nice.

Club Tech Digital Arts Festivals allow BGCA, along with founding sponsor Microsoft and Comcast, to give young people an avenue to get creative and design original pieces of digital artwork--from posters and PSAs to stop-motion animation and logos. The competition is one component of the Club Tech program which teaches critical technology skills.

"With Club Tech, members are introduced to the world of clay animation, robotics, game design, digital movie making, photo illustration, graphic design and music production," said Byerly. "We're giving them real-world skills that will not only help them excel in school, but create a future career."

About Club Tech
Club Tech was created by Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Microsoft in 2000 to technologically enable Clubs worldwide, transforming Clubs from "swim and gym" to "point and click" destinations. Partnering with longtime supporter Comcast and Microsoft, BGCA provides technology program access to some 4 million youth served through Club membership and community outreach at nearly 4,000 Clubs. By leveling the virtual playing field, kids of all ages and circumstances now have access to the same resources and skills to help them discover their world, expand creativity, perform better in school, and eventually take their technology know-how into the workplace.

Page last updated Mon February 27th, 2012 at 11:00