“An idea that is developed and put into action is more important than an idea that exists only as an idea.” – Buddha
Every Tuesday after school, the computer lab at Harrison Middle School comes to life with a dozen tech-savvy students who share a passion for video storytelling. The Yarmouth Digital Media Club, now an integral part of life at HMS, got its start thanks to 8th grader Sam Marjerison’s creative skateboard videos and the teacher who recognized their potential.
“I thought, wouldn’t it be great if we could offer that opportunity to all middle schoolers?” recalled Mike Arsenault, HMS Technology Coordinator. Together, they wrote a grant to the Yarmouth Education Foundation, asking for funds to purchase high quality camcorders, wireless microphones, tripods, editing software and a new iMac.
In the spring of 2014 they received a YEF grant for $7,452. One year later, the club is thriving. The young videographers are often called on to shoot and edit videos of school functions and recently club members Nate Emory and Ethan Roth, both 7th graders, shot footage that will be used in a new “1-2-3 Let’s Move” PSA.
But what the students say they like most about the Digital Media Club is the time and space it gives them to be creative. ”It’s an hour and a half after school with no restrictions or deadlines,” said Majerison, an 8th grader. ”I can just fool around and try new stuff with the equipment.” And Arsenault says the students try new techniques all the time. ”These kids take the stuff further than I do,” he said. ” Every time they do a project they try new things they’ve never done before.”
School administrators say the YEF grants provide valuable outlets for creativity and innovation. ”YEF says, give us your best, most innovative thinking,” said Joan Adler, HMS Assistant Principal. To her, the grant program means endless possibilities for both students and teachers.
It’s not that teachers and students didn’t have ideas for interesting projects before YEF came on the scene. But administrators say the rigorous demands of the academic school day combined with budget limitations didn’t leave many opportunities for extra projects, no matter how great the idea. ”Now when a teacher has a good idea, we say, ‘do you think YEF might be able to help us with that?’” said Bruce Brann, HMS Principal.
To date, YEF has said ”yes” 58 times. Since the foundation’s creation in 2010, the non-profit has awarded 58 grants totaling $140,000. Many of the grants are science and technology based, but others are used to improve the quality of life at school, an intangible that administrators say contributes to the overall excellence of the Yarmouth school system.
Last year, a YEF grant paid for a set of modern chairs for the middle school library. The new furniture is intended to encourage students to read longer and share what they’ve read. Another YEF grant funded a water bottle filling station in the hallway. ”Every time a student puts their water bottle in that fountain, it reinforces the importance of being a steward of the earth,” says Brann. It is hard to predict which moments will be the most formative in a student’s life. What is clear is that the projects funded by YEF grants give students more opportunities to explore their interests and excel.
“The Digital Media Club provides an opportunity for kids who may be on the periphery to become leaders in their field of interest,” said Arsenault.
“Without the grant and what it provides, a lot of my dreams wouldn’t be possible,” said Marjerison. “Thank you!”