Barbara Sisk (née Hart)
Journalist / Media Professional
Clients / Work
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Newspaper Article

Must-watch TV: Lewisville Students May Produce Ad Campaigns

Middle school and high school students in the Lewisville district could be producing drug prevention and health messages that would be broadcast next year to classrooms.

The Lewisville district project would be an expansion of a similar program conducted by the Denton school district, Denton County Health Department and the Denton County Substance Abuse Coalition.

“It gives students the opportunity to participate,” said Kitty Dethlefsen, director for guidance counseling for the Lewisville district. “It’s coming from their heart, and they are delivering that message to their peers.”

The option to participate in the program will be presented to Lewisville district administrators this summer. If accepted the project could begin during the next school year.

About 50 students in the Denton school district have participated in the program dubbed Media Fest 2002. Some have produced 15- to 25-second video clips, and others have made posters, said Larry Mankoff, coordinator for student support programs for the Denton district.

The video clips will be converted to digital format for use on campus TV monitors. The posters will be digitally photographed. When students log onto their computers, they will see their regular Windows screen followed by a “flash screen” with a digital image conveying a safety message, Mankoff said.

Messages will vary by campus and will be carefully screened by a committee of parents and educators. About 6,000 middle school and high school students could receive the messages, he said.

“We can strategically put information on the costs associated with drinking and driving, for example, before the prom,” he said.

The concept is modeled after the Teen Video Fest, an annual event sponsored by the Tarrant County Health Department. Now in its fourth year, Teen Video Fest invites teen-agers to produce 30-second videos on health and drug prevention. The event culminates with an awards ceremony at Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum. Videos are then made available to schools through a video lending library.

The Denton school district’s Media Fest 2002 will hold an awards ceremony on April 4 at the United Artists Theatres in Denton.

A study published in the February 2002 issue of the American Journal of Public Health indicates that television advertisements contributed to a significant decline in marijuana use among teen agers, said Howard Simon, spokesman for the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. High-impact advertisements that affect teens on an emotional level have proven to be a deterrent.

Area school districts are finding it difficult to include drug prevention programs in the curriculum, said Melanie Barry, executive director for the Denton County Substance Abuse Coalition.

“I have been told by many school districts that given the pressure for academic performance and TASS testing, there is less and less school time available for students to be educated in prevention programs,” Barry said. “Programs where kids are involved have the greatest success.”

Malorie Quintana, a student at Billy Ryan High School in Denton, has been working on a video for Media Fest 2002. The video shows a girl standing in her prom dress in front of a mirror and not feeling pretty enough. She shatters the mirror in frustration.

“My message is against peer pressure and being accepted,” Quintana said. “Basically, it relays the message that it’s OK to be your own individual, and there is hope out there.”

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