MOSAIC video program collaborates with news stations on latest project

BENNINGTON — Coming off their award-winning spring production, students in the Mount Anthony Union Middle School MOSAIC video production program have debuted their newest video, which features a collaboration with two local news stations.

A mock news broadcast, the students' latest feature examines a world in which every single teacher comes down with the flu, leading to students taking over the school. While most of the video was filmed by the students at the middle school, two news stations, Alexander Montgomery and Melissa Shekefoff of WCAX in Burlington and Greg Floyd of CBS6 in Albany, got involved with the project by filming real, in-studio introductions for the story.

The movie was debuted at the Middle School Monday afternoon. The class was co-taught by Ryan Scutt of Catamount Access Television (CAT-TV) and Adriana Hazelton, an AmeriCorps VISTA currently working with Southwest Vermont Health Care. This is the fourth year that the program has been held, and Scutt said this semester's class, which had 16 enrolled, was the biggest yet.

Scutt said that students often return to the after-school program semester after semester, and often bring their friends. "A lot of students have a good time and learn about stuff they might not otherwise have the opportunity to learn," he said. Last spring, Scutt entered two of the students' videos in the Freedom and Unity Youth Film Contest, one of which was awarded second-place in the "personal stories" category. Scutt and two of the students from the class, Elizabeth Spurr and Dominic Kelly, traveled to White River Junction to accept the award.

Monday also saw the "big screen" debut of the program's first-ever summer production, "Scary Apps," which featured a student defeating ghosts with the power of her smartphone. Scutt said that all the topics are chosen by the students, and he and Hazelton help them shape the ideas and concepts into stories. While the students don't do the final editing, he said, they do get an introduction to software such as Adobe Premiere as part of the program. This semester, the students worked on the video for about an hour a week for 10 weeks.

Some of the other topics the students have touched on in their videos over the years are bullying, dealing with stress, cyber bullying, and fake news. Scutt said that the collaboration between MOSAIC and CAT-TV is an opportunity to spread the station's mission into the community. "We're given them the ability to create media content," he said. What the students do with that ability is up to them.

The newest video will be available shortly on CAT-TV's YouTube channel, and will air on CAT-TV in the coming weeks. The YouTube channel features a playlist of all of the past MOSAIC productions, of which there are now almost 20.

This is Hazelton's first year co-teaching the MOSAIC program, but she brings experience working with children during her time with the Peace Corps in Tanzania. "I find working with kids really gratifying," she said, noting that her favorite part is building personal relationships with the students and helping them grow.

The first MOSAIC video was produced as part of the Southshire Challenge in the spring of 2015. Jim Trimarchi, SVHC's director of planning, challenged the students to make a video encouraging healthy eating. "I can't tell you how much this video means to our current health system," he said at the debut of that first video. "We don't know how to talk to the youth, the kids in Bennington and the surrounding community.... We need you to talk to your friends, and show them the healthy way. Think about it, your friends, the people you hang out with, aren't going to listen to me, I'm just some guy in a suit. They're going to listen to you."

Derek Carson can be reached at, at @DerekCarsonBB on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 122.


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