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Middle School Students Create Mini-Documentaries In Danbury

Excel students working on their projects.
Excel students working on their projects. Photo Credit: Facebook

DANBURY, Conn. -- In “Don’t Be a Bystander,” a powerful online video created by three Danbury teens who attend the Excel summer program at Western Connecticut State University, the message is clear: “get involved.” 

The class, a part of Excel, is a year-round program that meets for six weeks during the summer on the WCSU campus and serves up to 90 middle school students in grades seven and eight. The Excel Program involves students in their school and community through club meetings, community service and field trips, thereby enabling the facilitation of a sense of community and unity developed over the summer. 

Brenda Amorim, an eighth-grade student at Rogers Park Middle School, is one of the 70 students who spend an hour and 15 minutes a day in a computer lab at the university with teacher Dawn Bartz, the Global Studies theme coach at Westside Middle School Academy. 

The students learned how to compile four-minute video-movies that serve as public awareness messages. Brenda said that by choosing music, she can set a tone for her movie and then by choosing select words, she can make the appropriate impact. By stringing everything together with photos, the students can tell a story that will be remembered. 

“If you make a powerful message, you can get people to stop what they are doing,” Amorim said. “Our message is to get people to stand up for each other and not watch others being hurt.” Andrew Pani, an eighth-grade student at Broadview Middle School and his partner Brian Galarza, a Rogers Park eighth-grader, made a video about soccer-great Christiano Ronaldo that highlighted the message "time and effort can lead to success." 

The boys said they learned how to edit, select the best photos for their purpose, and set the elapse time. By using music and the roar of a crowd, the pair said they succeeded in creating a mood of excitement to inspire their viewers. “At the end, it came out really good,” Pani said.

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