As the final days of the school year tick by, students at South County Secondary School are looking back over the first nine months inside their new home and hoping they’ll remember everything.
To help them out, students in Cheryl DeVincentis’ Television Production One class have filmed, edited and put to music “The Wrap Up,” an hour-long DVD commemorating the inaugural year at South County.
“The DVD covers all the main events of the first year,” said sophomore Eric Nazar, one of four students who have spent most of the last quarter putting together film clips of what happened between August and May.
The school’s yearbook will include photos from every event at the school, he said, whereas the DVD will only feature the highlights, from the Stallion Stampede, one of the first official school functions, through the spring sports season.
Under the supervision of their teacher, the students have been collecting clips, editing them together and putting it all to music, said freshman Sam Miller, the youngest member of the four-person team.
“We used footage from everyone in our production classes,” said junior Carleigh Swiger.
MORE THAN 15 tapes were originally compiled of footage shot by students, Sam said
“We had to find the stuff we liked, and Gillian (Santos, a junior) wrote the script for it. Carleigh did the voice-overs,” Eric said, and as of Friday, June 9, they were still adding footage.
When the DVD is finished, a menu option will allow viewers to skip through to watch the sports section or the piece on the performing arts, Carleigh said.
The TV Production class began the year with an intensive summer camp, Sam said, since most students had very little, if any, experience using film equipment. Their first newscast aired on the first day of school in September.
“I was the most interested in creating a DVD, but this class deals mostly with producing a TV show,” he said.
DeVincentis had organized all the tapes from which they gathered their highlights, Sam said, but picking out the best material was “still time consuming.”
“We came in after school and worked through lunch a few times,” Carleigh added.
THE DVD, which was being sent out for mass production on Tuesday, June 13, should be seen as an interactive way to remember their first year at South County and, for many students, their first year together, Sam said.
“If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many pictures are there in a second of film?” asked Eric. “This is an hour long. It’s our first year and it’s pretty exciting.”
Using Pinnacle Liquid, the same editing software used by CNN and the local ABC affiliate in Washington, D.C., the students gained a first-hand look at how movies and television shows are produced.
They’ve also produced a short trailer for the DVD, which aired on the morning news show their class films every morning.
“Teachers have been announcing it in the cafeteria,” Sam said of their project. “It’s really nice to have that much teacher support.”
In addition to learning the nuts and bolts of producing a video, “The Wrap Up” gave the students a chance to look back at how their lives have changed since starting at South County.
“I’ve been in private school my whole life until this year,” Carleigh said. “It’s so different. Everyone here is much calmer and the technology is way better.”
Having the opportunity to work on “brand new everything” was part of the fun for Eric, who said his first year at South County has been “great.”
“When I tell people I go to South County, they ask me about the teachers and the technology,” Sam said. “The teachers are trying so hard to prove that South County is a really great place.”
FROM THE Stallion Stampede in August, when members of the community helped to move furniture into the building, through spring theatrical productions, “we all had a part in opening this school,” Eric said.
“Everyone’s really committed to making this school better,” Carleigh added.
Their teacher couldn’t be prouder of the finished product.
“They had to learn everything, from how to operate a camera and how to do audio and effects and music to put together an interesting script,” said DeVincentis. “When you consider on the first day of school, many of them had never held a camera, it’s quite impressive.”
One of the tricks for the DVD and the newscasts alike was the inability of students to use popular music due to copyright protection.
To get around that, students were invited to write and submit music to be used during the broadcasts. Some of that, written by junior Michael Carter, is featured on the DVD as well, she said.
Most likely, DeVincentis said she’ll continue to offer this project to future classes.
“When these kids are in their 40s, they’ll be able to look back and see what they were wearing, the kind of dances they were dancing and hear the music they were listening to,” she said. “They’ll be able to hear how they sounded and you just can’t get that in a yearbook.”
Which is not to say the yearbook staff haven’t done a “great job” on their book, she said. “They came to our rescue with some still shots of the fall sports we didn’t have film for,” she said. “We’d love to apologize for not having every single sport included in film on the DVD.”
As principal of this new enclave of students, Dale Rumberger said he's happy with the progress his school has made.
"We've achieved the first year," he said. "I'm in awe at the display in student, teacher, counselor and staff member talent here. The students have done well and the faculty's been awesome."
He's seen parts of the DVD and said he was impressed with it.
"I think it's awesome. It's another example of our kids' creativity," he said.
Copies of “The Wrap Up” should be back to the school by the end of the year, but an e-mail will be sent out to parents announcing their arrival, DeVincentis said. Additional copies may be ordered so parents who didn’t order in time can purchase a copy during the Stallion Stampede later this summer.