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Students earn awards for public service announcements

By Staff | Mar 29, 2010

Two local teens were among six in Lee County recognized for producing excellent pieces of student television.
They earned awards from the Suncoast Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for public service announcements, long-form fiction, non-fiction and for the district’s video news magazine named “Connected.”
George Schwigk and Matt Swearingen, from Mariner High School, won for their public service announcement, “Texting While Driving,” and Schwigk won again for his non-fiction piece, “MST Mariner High School.”
Those with honorable mentions from the academy included Alysia Leonard, George Schwigk and Jennifer Guido for “Connected: High School Musical Edition,” Vanessa Mieses and Jessica Mawhinney for the public service announcement “Cyberbully” and Leonard received another honorable mention for craft achievement.
Jason Sills, the district’s head of Emerging Technology and Video Production, said the winners are part of the district’s video internship program, an after-school program where students learn the skills of video production and make $8 per hour filming different events and producing videos for Comcast Channel 99.
“What they did is enter some of the stuff they worked on over the year,” said Sills. “Every month they put together a news magazine show about the school district. It could be an outstanding student, teacher or program, athletic events or the arts.”
The internship is open to all Lee County high school students, but Sills said he prefers junior and seniors because students need to have their own mode of transportation because the program operates out of the Lee Education Center in Fort Myers.
Sill said that six students are typically interning with the district but the district is trying to expand the program. They produce most of the programming on Comcast Channel 99, the district’s own channel.
“They create most of our original content on the channel,” he said.
Most of the interns are enrolled at video production classes in their respective schools. They work with Sills to get more experience in the field.
“I’m teaching them how to be the one-man band, shoot, interview and edit their own packages,” he said. “They get live production experience as well as reporting experience.”
Swearingen, a junior at Mariner High, has been in the internship program for approximately four months and created the winning 60-second public service announcement with Schwigk. The video, shot in a parking lot, follows a man as he leaves his office and drives around town texting.
In the end of the video the man crashes his car and an on-screen text message reads “Message Received.” Swearingen said the two created the video for a Stay Alive, Just Drive campaign, but they decided to enter it into the recent award competition.
“It is really just a great honor to have the prestige of that award,” said Swearingen.
For more information on the video internship program, call 337-8344.