Creativity nets 7 IVIE nominations

   On the Olive Peirce Middle School campus, there is a class where on any given day when you walk in you feel the creativity and energy.

   There might be kids crowded around a table deep in brainstorming while others are huddled by a computer putting the last touches on the video they are producing. Whatever they are engrossed in, one is sure to find Sergio Estrada’s video production students working — and smiling.

   “It’s like a huge family. We are all awesome video production buddies and it is a good feeling to work with great people every day. And Mr. Estrada is awesome. He is the perfect middle school teacher because he just gets us and all our quirky behavior,” said eighth-grader Ava Anderson, who hopes to have a career in film one day.

   Estrada is especially pleased with his crew this year. They have recently been nominated for a record seven Innovative Video in Education (IVIE) awards and will be competing against several other middle schools in the county on May 25 for the coveted award.    

   “Having a video nominated at all is an accomplishment in itself,” said Estrada. “Especially when you consider that there are so many schools submitting excellent work. The competition is fierce. The fact that we were recognized for seven videos is pleasantly overwhelming and I am so very proud of my students.”

   This year’s nominees and categories are: “Scientific” (Science and Math) by Ava Anderson, Jake Hitchcock and Daniel Fieger; “Recycling” (Man—Environmental Public Service Announcement) by Ian Hopperton, Nick Bates and Leah Lebrun; “Go Green Or Else” (Environmental Public Service Announcement) by Karl Sapper, Andrew Kaminski and Christa Gregory; “Silent Sustained Reading at OPMS” (Broadcast Journalism) by Kanoa Stephens, Casey Travis, and Kevin Park; “Stop the Cyber Bullying” (Public Service  Announcement) by Ava Anderson, Sophie Proctor and Lilia Baldaulf; “An Ironic Twist” (Language Arts/Humanities) by Chris Heredia, and Armando Romero; and “Grammar Man” (Language Arts/Humanities) by Lilia Baldauf, Kevin Park and  Levi Vermeulen.

   “The whole class just exploded when we found out the nominations. We were really excited,” said eighth-grader Karl Sapper whose video on recycling uses his little sister as one of the actors and was inspired by an ad he saw during the Super Bowl.

   According to Estrada, making it into the competition can be a task in itself, so they work hard to produce award-worthy pieces, starting with the basic elements of a story.

   “With video, the technology is always changing, so learning to use the equipment is a must, but even so it is only a small part of my focus,” said Estrada. “I try and place a huge emphasis on having the students understand and be able to use the elements that make a good story. You can have all the best special effects or great songs you want in a video or film, but, if the story is weak, the video is weak. So the key is in how are they going to capture the attention of their audience and how are they going to present their story, their message, etc? I hold my students to high expectations in this regard and they always seem to deliver. As a result they learn not to settle for good enough but rather to always strive to do the best possible job they can do.”

   Anderson’s two videos, for example, started with the basic building blocks of a story and grew from there.

   “It was kind of difficult coming up with the ideas,” she said. “We had our shot sheet, which is where we do a preview of what we wanted to do, and we were trying to come up with a good video. Our ‘Scientific’ video is a parody of a rap song but instead we made it into a rap about the science standards. It’s really entertaining and funny and our ‘Cyber Bullying’ video was tough to create because we had to do silent acting and we kept on laughing a lot.”

   Sometimes this type of effort means working overtime. 

   “Whether they’re working on a video for an IVIE submission or a video for the OPT class, my students always work very hard to make sure their productions are the best that they can be,” said Estrada.  “This often means re-shooting, working through lunch periods, breaks and so on.  Being nominated validates to them that all their hard work pays off. They develop a work ethic which becomes a value they can take with them wherever they go in the future.”

   Estrada, who has been teaching the course for seven years, says with each year the students seem to inspire the next. While he has had IVIE nominations in the past and one win, it has never been this many. He attributes that to his students’ creativity.

   “We have the same technology, same cameras, same computers, but it’s the fresh ideas that the kids bring every year that make the program so exciting,” he said. “As long as they are allowed to express their individuality, the program will grow because each year’s students bring something new to OPT.”

   IVIE Award night will be held in the San Diego Civic Theatre. Estrada and his students will walk down the Red Carpet at 5 p.m., and the ceremony will start at 6.

“It was a big relief finishing our video and knowing that we accomplished what we set out to do,” said Sapper. “It’s awesome to see it come to life on the big screen and, win or lose, it’s a big honor — mind blowing.”

   Win or lose, Estrada is just proud of OPMS being in nearly every category.

   “I love my job,” he said. “I get to see young minds discover a potential they sometimes never knew they possessed. I can’t wait to see where they go in the future. But wherever they go, I have no doubt they are going to rock the world on many levels.”

   His students believe they are in for a win.

   “I have a feeling,” said Anderson. “I think we just might get something. That’s my goal, that someone from our class wins.”

   After the event, videos and a list of winners may be seen on the IVIE website, www.ivieawards.org.

   
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