Student videographers show impact of the arts

AUGUSTA — A team of four students at Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast set out to prove in a three-minute video that the impact of the performing arts stretches well beyond the theater. And a four-student team at Foxcroft Academy in Dover-Foxcroft set out to demonstrate how the arts and a little more color in life can lift a person’s spirit and boost productivity.

The two teams of student videographers succeeded, and are winners of the first WatchMECreate challenge of the 2011-12 school year. Each member of both teams will receive an iPod Nano, and both teams will receive $500 each to use toward promoting the arts in their schools.

The video challenge, called WatchMEUseTheArts, called on entrants to show viewers “how the arts have moved, or could move beyond the music room, beyond the art room, beyond the theater, beyond the darkroom, beyond the expected spaces to help students like you make their school or their community a better place for all.”

It was the fourth challenge in the WatchMECreate series, which is a collaboration among the Maine Department of Education’s Maine Learning Technology Initiative, the Association of Computer Technology Educators of Maine, and the Maine Alliance for Arts Education. Members of those three organizations judged the video entries and determined the winners.

Cameron Pillitteri, Noah Howard, Eilha Charbonnier and Sarah Joy of Troy Howard Middle School show in their video how the skills they’ve picked up through participating in the school’s drama program have helped them build their self-confidence, bring concepts in social studies class to life, and make literature more understandable.

Shinsuke Mikame, Hollyann Leonhardt, Julian Quinn and Robert Trotter of Foxcroft Academy demonstrate how being surrounded by art – by bright colors and public murals – can change someone’s mood, reduce stress, increase school pride, spark brain development and make people more productive.

“How these students responded to this challenge is a perfect example of what can happen when students have a say in how they learn,” said Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen. “These videos demonstrate what we’re seeing more of in our schools as we move to a system designed around the needs of the student.”

The two videos can be viewed online at http://bit.ly/WatchME.

Another WatchMECreate challenge will be issued in the spring.

David Connerty-Marin | Maine Department of Education | 207-624-6880