Schoolyard students produce PSAs

CITC’s Schoolyard program participants are well on their way to becoming Hollywood-level directors and editors. With the guidance of Media, Art, and Design Coach Cail Hubert, students in the program have put together a video that highlights the importance of preserving Native culture, a “Thriller” music video, and an incredibly creepy short film.

Their latest project, though, takes a more serious tone. This week, Schoolyard uploaded a student-produced Public Service Announcement (PSA) about underage drinking to its Youtube channel.

“I wanted to incorporate video and technical skills with something that wasn’t just relevant to our students, but to any youth,” Cail explained. “I remembered doing PSAs back when I was in high school. That’s something that’s never going away — the topics change, but PSAs still serve a purpose.”

Schoolyard students interviewed CITC staff, as well as fellow students, for a PSA on underage drinking.

Schoolyard students interviewed CITC staff, as well as fellow students, for a PSA on underage drinking.

The kids involved in the project chose from a number of potential topics for their PSA, landing on underage drinking because, according to Schoolyard participant and eleventh-grader Alton Smallwood, “We saw how [underage drinking] affected us and our peers, our families, and we thought we could show other people what it does to the person who drinks, and everyone around them.”

Students went through the entire production process, from storyboarding to capturing interviews to editing and choosing music and transitions.

“I learned how to edit, to put it all together and try to add music to inspire and motivate people,” Alton shared.

For twelfth-grader Brandy Outwater, who served as the project’s camerawoman, interviewing fellow Schoolyard students as well as adults, including several CITC employees, gave her a new perspective on people she saw every day.

Schoolyard participant Alton Brown learned editing skills while putting together the short PSA on underage drinking.

Schoolyard participant Alton Brown learned editing skills while putting together the short PSA on underage drinking.

“A lot of people opened up about their lives, their teenage lives, what they went through as teens,” she said. “It was so interesting to learn new things about people I knew and to see how they have different opinions about underage drinking, but all those opinions connect.”

In addition to gaining exposure to real-life stories about the harms of underage drinking, students developed new technical skills and gained a significant amount of confidence in their roles, said Cail.

“It was good to see some of the shyer kids step up, even if they were hesitant at first. For a lot of them, this was their first time — Alton’s first time editing, Brandy’s first time behind the camera. They stepped into the roles, and ten minutes later, they actually became the director, the actor, the editor. Very cool to see them break out of their shell.”

They also got the chance to have a little fun: In addition to the “serious” PSA, the team put together a more light-hearted PSA about texting and driving. When it came to casting the video’s star, a girl who hits a pedestrian while distracted behind the wheel, the decision was basically made for the group, said Christine Noratak, a ninth-grade Schoolyard student.

“When we were discussing it, I was on my phone the whole time, texting,” she admitted. “They all laughed, so I became the main character. They said I was perfect for the role!”

So, what will the Schoolyard students’ next project be? Perhaps another PSA: “We realized later, after we’d filmed the don’t-text-and-drive video, that none of the students in the car were wearing seatbelts,” Cail shared. (Don’t worry: The car in the video never actually moves, so everyone involved was safe.) “We might have a sequel PSA. ‘Don’t forget to buckle up!’”

Interested in Schoolyard opportunities? There are lots of Schoolyard camps coming up this summer. Contact the program for more information!