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Students explore social issues, create PSAs

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Posted: Tuesday, October 11, 2011 12:00 pm

By Chris McGuinness

Killeen Daily Herald

Pictures of homeless people flashed across a screen in the middle of a dark room.

The black-and-white photos depicted men, women and children sleeping on the street or begging on sidewalks. The video ended with a call to the audience to donate clothes, food and money to local homeless shelters.

The video's creators aren't from a big advertising agency or nonprofit organization; they are students in 11th-grade English classes at Harker Heights High School.

"There are a lot of issues out there that may not get very much attention, and this project let us highlight some of those," said Logan Tackett, one of the creators of the homelessness video.

Logan is one of 80 junior students in Advanced Placement English classes who created public service announcement videos as part of a three-week class project.

Their teacher, Danielle Fritz, said the project, which is in its first year, is the culmination of a curriculum unit on persuasion. "The students learned how to use words, sound and visuals to appeal to their audience, and to get them to take action," she said.

Fritz's students worked alone or in groups to write, shoot and edit more than 20 public service announcements for the project. They were allowed to choose their topics, which ranged from homelessness and cyber-bullying to hunger and the dangers of texting and driving.

Tackett said having a say in selecting the topic motivated him and his partner, Steven Murphey II, to put more thought into their video on the homeless. The two not only shot the video but wrote and performed their own musical score for it.

Bianca Brown and four other students created a PSA encouraging people to support fine arts classes in schools, a subject close to her heart.

"We were concerned because they cut associate band directors at middle schools, and we were all in the band program and knew them personally," said Brown. "I think we put a lot of work into (the video) because it was something we were all very passionate about.

The students aren't stopping at just turning in their projects for a grade. Fritz said her classes will choose the top three videos, then vote on which one they liked the best. Then the students will create an action plan and a project to raise awareness and address the issue featured in the winning video.

"They wanted to take it farther than just the (PSAs)," said Fritz. "They are a very self-motivated group."

The students formed an English language club last month, which will help organize other service projects throughout the year.

"We need to learn how to use our voice, because we are the ones who are going to be in charge in the future," said Brown. "We need to learn how make changes in our world now so we are prepared."

Contact Chris McGuinness at chrism@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7568.

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