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Denver Students’ Winning PSA on Texting While Driving

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Kid Witness News 'It's in the Text'A video public service announcement made by Denver middle school students about the dangers of texting while driving is one of the four winners in a national student video contest. The one-minute-and-12-second public service announcement (PSA) called, “It’s in the Text,” was made by a small team of students at Rachel B. Noel Middle School as part of Panasonic’s Kid Witness News program.

In the hands-on video education program, which began in 1989, small teams of students in schools around the U.S. develop communication, organizational, and cognitive skills while using state-of-the-art, high-definition video technology. The equipment is supplied to participating middle and high schools by Panasonic.

Teachers oversee the student teams as they research, write, produce, direct, act in, and edit a video on a subject important to them and their community. The topic needs to fit into one of three categories: advertisements for Panasonic products, the environment, or social issues.

9News.com’s Lori Obert and Eric Kahnert wrote an article quoting Vista Academy teacher Richard Carter who helped supervise the Rachel B. Noel Middle School student team. “We found a topic that really is impacting kids today. Kids are constantly texting,” Carter said.

The teen video team told 9News.com they chose texting and driving for their PSA because it’s a growing problem, and 8th-grader Gilbert Quezada elaborated: “I think it’s a very big problem because most of the times when I’m at a stop light they’re calling people, or texting or something like that.”

In a phone conversation, Penny Joseph, Director Corporate Outreach Programs, Panasonic Corporation of North America (PCNA), told the Daniel R. Rosen blog:

‘The judges chose this PSA because of quality of the video itself — the production aspect — as well as the important message that it spoke to, teenagers and texting. We need to make them understand that they put their lives in jeopardy by texting while driving. I don’t think that’s a message only for young people, that’s a message for adults as well.’

Terri Seeney, Manager of Corporate Outreach Programs for Panasonic Corporation of North America, told the Daniel R. Rosen blog that the top 10 videos from all 74 participating U.S. schools were selected by a team of students from the Arts and Films Division of Bronx Community College, NY. A panel of respected professionals from the broadcasting and film industry narrowed the 10 down to the top four winners. The judges included professors from film divisions of top universities, New York City TV news stars, and executives from The New Jersey Performing Arts Center and the Nederlander theater group.

Seeney said the Denver school won a KWN trophy and banner, and a “Weekend of Fun and Learning” — an all-expenses-paid, Thursday through Sunday trip to Panasonic’s Kid Witness News “New Vision Awards” ceremony at Panasonic North American Headquarters in Secaucus, NJ, this past May.

The award-winning team of Rachel B. Noel Middle School students who went on the trip along with two adults included Kayla Mechels, Asared Cantu, Jose Rios, Paul Yang, Gilbert Quezada, and Anthony Vigil. The students were given a welcome dinner, a sightseeing bus tour of Manhattan, and a meal at Carmine’s Restaurant. They got to see the Broadway musical Mary Poppins, and went to the top of the Empire State Building. They also got to meet with Panasonic’s CEO and other top executives.

This team did not win the contest’s Best Video of the Year award, which went to Val Verde High School in Perris, CA, whose students have made their five-minute-long Twilight Zone-style PSA, “Without Me,” to discourage teen suicide. Although the Rachel B. Noel Middle School team’s PSA wasn’t chosen as the best video of the year, Vista Academy teacher Richard Carter said, “The other three schools were all high schools, so we were the youngest group that won.” The Denver students are already working on their next entry in the PSA contest, a video about cyber-bullying.

You can see the Rachel B. Noel Middle School’s winning Public Service Announcement here:

Image by Panasonic Kid Witness News, used under Fair Use: Reporting.

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