WEST NEWBURY — Police Chief Lisa Holmes recently tapped the technical expertise of local high school students to create a public service announcement for the community.
The announcement, written and filmed by members of video production teacher Stevin Bartholomew's classes, is designed to educate the public on when — and when not — to call the 911 emergency phone number. It should be up and running on the town's cable access channel by mid-May, said Holmes.
The idea for developing the video spot came while Holmes was attending a leadership class offered by the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials. As part of the requirement for the yearlong course, she needs to design a community service project. Currently, the town's cable channel runs a safety announcement that was filmed in Peabody. Holmes thought it would be great to create a homegrown version to run on the local channel.
The chief spoke with Jim Teal of the Cable Advisory Committee, who directed her toward Bartholomew, noting that the school had the necessary film equipment and his students could get service credit for participating. Students need a minimum of 10 hours of community service credits per year as part of their graduation requirements.
She initially met with the student filmmakers in March to explain her concept and provide them with a brief outline of what she wanted to accomplish. The students took it from there, developing two short skits: one that depicts a medical emergency in which it is appropriate to call 911 for help, and a second one about a power outage in town, which is not a reason to call the emergency phone line.
"Mr. Bartholomew and the students are great. They were very eager to get involved in this project and have been fantastic to work with," said Holmes. The team is meeting again this week to do complete additional filming for the project.
"The visits to the police station are a great opportunity for students to get some real world experience in the video production field," said Bartholomew. "The students have been involved from the first meeting we had with Chief Holmes and are doing a phenomenal job to help the West Newbury Police Department to create this public service announcement for the community."
In preparation for writing the script and filming the announcement, students interviewed police officers and shot footage of what goes on during a 911 call.
"It's really an incredible thing to see them take it from the very beginning stages and produce the entire video in such a professional manner," their teacher said. In fact, the process was so successful that Holmes is planning on using the production team again to create a public service announcement on why it is important from a safety standpoint to make sure your house is properly numbered to help first responders during an emergency.
Holmes is working on the project in conjunction with the TRIAD program and the Council on Aging. TRIAD is a partnership dedicated to promoting senior safety that is formed among law enforcement, senior citizens and community organizations.
Bartholomew's video classes focus on teaching students the real world skills needed to be successful in life, such as the importance of pre-planning when tackling a project and the value of developing strong collaboration and communication skills.
"We also strive to bring the schools and the communities closer together," said Bartholomew, adding that he hopes the towns will consider his students as a resource for these types of projects in the future. Anyone with a video production idea can contact him at 978-363-5507, ext. 197. "We're here to help," Bartholomew said.