Multiple Districts — The premiere at Celebration Cinema North was packed with supporters, watching as sleekly edited clips of scientists working in a laboratory flashed across the big screen.
“We want you here,” came a voice, directly addressing viewers. “The world isn’t going to save itself.”
The May 30 premiere showcased the Doug Meijer Medical Innovation Building in downtown Grand Rapids, inviting youth to imagine a future in the medical sciences in West Michigan.
The kicker: that youth were not just the intended audience of the message — they also played a big role in crafting it.
Seven students from East Kentwood and East Grand Rapids high schools were interns on the project produced by ShutterWerks Media. Since last fall, the students have gotten hands-on experience with the video production process, from screenwriting to filming to editing.
“I couldn’t stop smiling because I worked so hard on it,” said junior Malory Mosley on watching the final product at the premiere. “Elated” is how senior Conner O’Brien described his own emotions.
The idea for the video emerged from the collaboration between Kentwood Superintendent Kevin Polston, East Grand Rapids Superintendent Heidi Kattula and Anthony Chang, founder and CEO of BAMF Health, a cancer treatment center headquartered in the Doug Meijer Medical Innovation Building.
Over the past few years, the trio discussed what a partnership between the education and medical sectors might look like. Their plan is to create more opportunities for K-12 students to gain experience in science and medicine, including internships.
But first, they wanted to inspire students through storytelling, Kattula said. Key was having students take part in creating the promotional video. “We wanted the kids to be able to inspire each other.”
Inspiration Goes Both Ways
The interns were led by Steve Steketee, ShutterWerks founder. In addition to involving students in the production process, Steketee introduced them to other area filmmakers.
He said it was fascinating to see how keen students were to learn about video production. “It was something I needed in my life right now, just with how long I’ve been in the business,” he said.
‘For (students) to take what they’ve been learning all year and now apply it to the real world is a teacher’s dream come true.’— Preston Donakowski, video production & journalism teacher at East Kentwood High School
The internship, which was paid and took place this past school year, came with a sense of discovery and accomplishment for students.
Conner said the experience helped him figure out some of his professional goals. Malory emphasized new friendships. Senior Harrison Stidolph said he enjoyed wearing various hats throughout pre-production, production and post-production. “A lot of learning went into that process,” he said.
The internship allowed students to gain practical experience outside of the classroom, said East Kentwood video and journalism teacher Preston Donakowski, who helped connect the students with the opportunity.
“There’s only so much we can do in school,” Donakowski said. “For them to take what they’ve been learning all year and now apply it to the real world is a teacher’s dream come true.”
The video will eventually be shown to K-12 students to further connect them with real-world opportunities once Kattula, Polston and Chang iron out the details of future collaborations.
“Kids touch our hearts; they touch our lives in ways that inspire us to do what we do every day,” Kattula said. “It’s just so rewarding to share that experience with people who are in other industries, because it very much gives them a purpose and a calling.”