A group of Westford Academy students took home second prize for their recent efforts in raising awareness about substance abuse.
About 40 WA students participated in producing a video entitled, “Be the Game Changer,” for the Project Purple initiative, a non-profit entity which challenges school students to avoid and prevent drug and alcohol use by creating multimedia projects that raise awareness through storytelling, song and original works.
Project Purple recognized the five top videos for 2017. Westford Academy was bested only by the Roger L. Putnam Vocational Technical Academy in Springfield.
The production was conceived and produced by students in WA teacher Adam Gagne’s Social Media Marketing Class.
“Theirs was not the only entry from Westford Academy, but it was the one that was most “powerful,” stated Melanie Jozokos, one of two advisors for Westford Academy’s Students Against Drunk Driving and Project Purple initiatives.
“This year, we challenged our student body and some teachers to come up with their best ‘mannequin challenge,’ she added. “Adam Gagne’s social media marketing class took the idea to a new level and certainly raised the bar. They brainstormed and put together the best submission, then we added our message to it for the final product.”
The video uses the popular Internet trend of the mannequin challenge in which subjects are frozen in action while a camera moves past them. The WA video starts out in the library with the camera panning across about a dozen students all looking at an email on their phones or computer screens. The email is an exchange from a female student to a male student in which she asks him to be her boyfriend. Her message is punctuated with a heart emoji.
The male student sends a first message that says “Yeah, sure.” The girl’s response is “Really?!!!” The boy then responds, “Ha! Hell Nawwww.” He apparently broadcasts the exchange to everyone in the school, callously shaming the girl. The camera catches about two dozen students reading the exchange in the library, moves to the hallway and ends inside a restroom where the girl is on the floor with pills in her palm and a girlfriend crouching beside her preventing her friend from swallowing the drugs. WA Deans Michael Parent and Robert Ware are part of the cast, each holding walkie-talkies in the hallway with concerned expressions.
The song that accompanies the images is “Titanium,” written by French DJ and music producer David Guetta and covered by Madilyn Bailey, a YouTube artist. The song was originally performed by music performing artist, Sia.
“THP Project Purple is an initiative of The Herren Project, a non-profit foundation established by former NBA basketball player, Chris Herren,” according to Lucia Nazzaro, outreach and communications director for The Herren Project’s Project Purple Initative. The project “assists individuals and families struggling with addiction,” she added.
“Westford Academy truly showed their commitment and dedication to living the mission of THPs Project Purple Initiative and what it means to “Go Purple,” through the video they created,” Nazzaro stated. “Because of that and the actual creative way they expressed that, they were awarded the 2nd place honor.”