Students produce video urging others to 'See Something, Say Something'
● By J. Chambless
Students worked for three weeks to produce a video highlighting the 'See Something, Say Something' program in Unionville-Chadds Ford schools.
consequences of ignoring warning signs from troubled students have
been seen far too often. In the wake of school shootings nationwide,
there are reports that the shooter had posted online threats, said
something that other students heard, and then gone on to commit
Sandy Hook Promise is a national non-profit organization founded and led by several family members whose loved ones were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012. As part of their message, “See Something, Say Something” has inspired schools nationwide to adopt practices that may head off a school shooting.
At Unionville High School, a group of students, teachers and administrators have put together a video that, in just over two minutes, lays out the message: Let a trusted adult know if you hear or see a student making threats. A video posted on the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District website last week begins with a tracking shot of the school cafeteria and library, and then cuts to students, teachers and administrators speaking directly to the camera. “If you hear rumors or threats,” one student says, followed by another saying, “or see any inappropriate posts on social media,” and then a third student saying, “We need you to come forward.” The video later features adults such as district superintendent John Sanville, who says, “We need everyone to work together.”
It's a somber but inspirational two minutes, and it benefits from the fact that the project was largely student-led and student-produced.
John Nolen, the district's assistant superintendent, said last week, “The school district's Wellness Council reviewed several resources that provide similar services. This resource provides a level of service, support and training that others did not. It also has a curriculum connected with it to support the program goals. The Wellness Council was impressed with the educational component, which was not present with the other vendors. Also, this program comes with no charge, as it is grant-funded.
“Pennsylvania has now chosen Sandy Hook Promise to develop and run the 'Safe2Say Something' program which all school districts in the state will need to use,” Nolen added. “This is advantageous to the district, as we have already had extensive training in this program through Sandy Hook Promise and are ready to implement.”
Unionville student Richard Childs, who worked on the video, said, “During a meeting of The Principal Advisory Council, we were discussing plans on how to show the school Sandy Hook Promise’s 'See Something, Say Something' movement. And we were inspired by a similar video done by Downingtown West. It was very well done, and we knew that we could do one just as good to make our school proud.”
Steve Ortega, a technology and engineering education teacher at Unionville High School, said, “The students that led the effort to create the video are involved in the TV/Video Production courses. They range from level one to level four students. For some, it was the first time participating in a production of this scale, and others are looking to attend film school in the fall.”
Student Lily Crosley said, “The students who were reading the lines, specifically, were a random sampling pulled from class on shooting days. … We are just normal students in the TV/Film production class. Because we have amazing resources like cameras, lights, and editing software, and know how to use them from learning in class, teachers and faculty know we can make really cool, cinematic videos. I specifically worked the camera, adjusting things like shutter and aperture to achieve the real-life studio, cinematic look, and edited the whole video and audio together.”
For Ortega, the experience of leading the students through the whole process was a valuable learning tool. “As part of the TV/Video Production course, I generally look to the school community for input and ideas for videos that the students can work to create,” he said. “Using outside groups as a 'client' for the students in the class gives them the experience of working with another person’s ideas or goals as they plan and produce a video product. ... I jumped at the opportunity to have the students work on the project.”
The diversity of the student and administrator voices was carefully planned, according to student Sara Belles. “We all come from different areas of the school. We have football players, cheerleaders, stage kids, club leaders, actors, and artists,” she said. “The seven of us got involved by taking a production class that was then asked to make this video. We just want to see the school shift for our younger classmates.”
Student Josephine Rodriguez said, “We chose the students in the video because we believed they represented different parts of our school. Between football, soccer, cheer, theater and Best Buddies, we have students from each area to speak to the rest of the school. Much like the way we chose students, we chose teachers that came from all over the school. One of the staff members was our security guard and football coach, who would always say 'Hi' to every student, so we chose him because he was well known throughout the school.”
The project came together over three weeks, Ortega said. “The students worked together with the administration, teachers and students to plan and execute the video. They filmed three to five people a day during their class period, and spent the better part of a week choosing the right takes, syncing audio, and compiling the clips into the final edit. They also worked with our music teacher to arrange the audio.”
“To say it was a bit of a time squish would be accurate, but we did it,” Belles said. “We worked through the troubles of having to film during Spirit Week, along with also having six other classes a day, plus after-school activities. I’m so proud of my crew for finishing this on time, especially our editor, Lily, who had to edit this entire video by herself in a week.”
The video is a direct, powerful statement that leaves an impression.
“My best hopes for this video are that it will make students at school realize the importance of speaking out and doing the right thing,” Belles said. “Unionville places a lot of focus on the safety of their students and this video was made in hopes of bringing the same idea to the vast student body.”
Student Richard Childs added, “I just want this video to change something. I want people to feel something when they watch it. I want it to help someone understand that sometimes saying something is all it takes to be a hero. This movement is simple and our video is simple. But watch it and listen, and please speak out.”
Crosley said, “I hope the video will not only show students and faculty the importance of safety, specifically against things like gun violence, bullying and fighting, but also show members of the whole community, like parents and political leaders, that change is needed now to protect students and faculty in schools.
“For most of my young life, violence in schools has been prevalent,” Crosley added. “I hope people see the video, along with the progressive, amazing work Sandy Hook is doing, and advocate and protest for positive change with regards to safety for everyone -- not only in schools but also in society as a whole.”
There is a link to the video from the school district's website, www.ucfsd.org.
To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, email firstname.lastname@example.org.