Mini-film festival to show students' stands
Somerset High School students are becoming filmmakers.
The public can see their creations during a mini-film festival on April 15 at the high school.
The film festival is the first major event put together by the rejuvenated STAND (Students Taking Action in a New Direction) group at the high school. There was a STAND group at the high school for several years, but had faded away until being revived by the new high school guidance counselors, Jenna Evenson and Jeremy Kerg.
Evenson and high school health care provider Patti Schachtner have overseen the students' efforts for the film festival. The films are public service announcements intended to inform the public or change public opinion. The subject has to do with making positive change, character or diversity.
Eighteen films have been produced by SHS students and another has come from St. Anne's School.
Because these films are intended to be public service announcements, they presented another hurdle to the young filmmakers. The films could be only 30-40 seconds in length. A popular vote at the April 15 viewing will be important to the filmmakers. The winners in the vote will have their films aired on the Somerset Public Access cable TV network.
The majority of the films deal with drinking, smoking and bullying.
"I think it comes down to peer pressure," Schachtner said for an overall theme she sees in the films. "This has turned out as a way for kids to be individuals."
The students have used school movie cameras to film their videos. The students have done all of their own film production and editing.
"It's been a good learning experience to use technology to get their message across," Schachtner said.
The idea for the film festival began when the guidance department received an AODA mini grant from CESA 11. Gail Culligan, chemical health prevention specialist for St. Croix County through the Youth Service Bureau, has helped oversee the planning of the film festival.
The festival will be held at 7 p.m. on April 15 in the high school multi-purpose room. STAND members will act as hosts for the festival.
The guest speaker for the film festival will be Karyn Bye Dietz. She won an Olympic gold medal on the United States women's hockey team in 1998 and a silver medal with the U.S. team in the 2002 Olympics.
The STAND organization has given students a place to propagate change. There are 25 students who have joined STAND this year. Eleven of the students are upperclassmen and 14 are sophomores and freshmen.
Evenson said the groups in STAND include a broad cross-section of the high school population. Evenson said the STAND members hope to host a large event each spring, though it may not be a film festival every year.
Healthy Choices Day
The film festival on April 15 will be part of Healthy Choices Day at the high school.
The afternoon will be dedicated to breakout sessions that will deal with a number of important issues.
Each of the high school classes will meet with staff from St. Croix County Public Health Services about reproductive issues. Students will meet with inmates from the St. Croix County Correctional Center.
To lighten up the tone of the day, the teaching staff will put on a health and nutrition game show for each class.
In another session, girls will meet with staff from TeenCare to discuss bullying, while boys will meet with representatives from the district attorney's office on domestic violence.
The sessions will be capped off with a performance by the Native Pride Dancers from St. Paul. Their performance will include a discussion about diversity.