Archive for Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Students’ video to promote need for bond issue

August 29, 2007

The entire community will be called upon to decide whether the Basehor-Linwood school district bond issue passes or fails in October, even if community members do not walk the halls of the schools on a daily basis.

But a teacher and a pair of students have figured out a way for everybody to catch a firsthand glimpse of the problems the schools face without having to set foot inside of them.

Basehor-Linwood High School teacher Sue Ryan and two of her advanced multimedia students, senior Kelly Courtney and junior Josh Fisher, picked up a couple of video cameras within the first few days of the school year and began shooting footage for what will become a video on the upcoming school bond issue.

"I did one for the last bond issue -- the last one that passed -- and decided that it might help to get the information across if we did it again," Ryan said.

Members of the film crew, which has visited all the schools in the district as well as the sites for the proposed new intermediate elementary school and middle school, were chosen based on their film experience, Ryan said.

The students were told they did not have to participate if their families did not agree with the bond issue, but Courtney and Fisher said they were not hesitant to jump aboard.

While an approved bond issue would not affect either of the older students, they said they wanted to help with the film to benefit the rest of the students in the district.

"Everyone should have an equal opportunity in education," Courtney said.

"The high school is spoiled compared to everyone else," Fisher added.

Ryan said much of the short film would be focused on the Sixth Grade Center and the Linwood Elementary and Basehor-Linwood High School joint building, where overcrowding seemed the most apparent. Both students and Ryan said the Sixth Grade Center was in the worst condition out of all the schools they filmed.

"It was pretty bad," Fisher said. "Worse than I thought."

The gymnasium quadruples as the cafeteria, the library and a place to store band instruments. What used to be an old stage has been boarded up and converted into two classrooms, Ryan said. A resource classroom is on one side while Kim Demings' choir class meets on the other side of the divider.

"It was really cramped in there and some of the kids had to sit on the floor," Ryan said about the choir class. "If she (Demings) would have set up chairs for them, she wouldn't have been able to move around the room. It wasn't a good situation at all."

The group also noted the small space in the school that serves as the main office, a teacher work area and the nurse's station. The nurse's station, they said, essentially was a cot that people had to step over to get to the secretary's desk.

"They had a student come in and lay down, and it was just right in the middle of the room," Courtney said.

While the middle school students have taken over some of the LES classrooms, the group said the main concern is the situation during the rush for lunch.

"The little kids had to fight through the big kids to get lunch," Courtney said.

"Most people in the profession think that's probably not the best idea," Ryan said about mixing older students with younger students. "Right now it's unavoidable for us."

And lunchtime wasn't the only problem. The crew also spotted issues with middle school classroom design and facilities. Courtney said layout made for a lack of student supervision and crammed conditions in classrooms. Fisher added that the locker rooms were old, rusty and poorly lit.

"The locker rooms were disgusting," Fisher said. "The showers looked like a torture chamber."

On a positive note, Courtney and Fisher commended the site selections for the proposed new school buildings. They said both sites were in good locations near homes and not in the middle of nowhere. The site for the new middle school provided a good central meeting place, they said, and shorter bus rides for students in Linwood and northern Basehor.

Filming is set to wrap up this week with interviews with some teachers and administrators, Ryan said.

While Ryan said she probably would do most of the editing due to time restraints.

Courtney and Fisher will do the voiceovers and act as narrators for the film. Both said they're not nervous to speak on film, but just hope the video turns out well and gets the point across.

"I really want it to be good," Courtney said. "I want to give people a good visual because not everybody can see it first hand."

A completion date is set for Sept. 15 and Ryan said her goal is to keep the film fairly short, about five or six minutes. Superintendent Bob Albers said once the film is completed, the district will most likely run it several times on local cable channel 26 and have it available for people to borrow and view.

"You kind of hear about these things, but when you witness them it's an eye opener," Ryan said. "The way I look at it is you could tell the people we need this and this is a problem, but if you show them, they'll possibly better understand because the camera doesn't lie."

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