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THE HARBOR INSPIRES STUDENTS

The following was submitted by Amy Quayle, Leadership Teacher/Adviser from Clarkston High School, and Lauren Culver, Executive Producer for Independent Television, in Michigan.


My Leadership classes and I were first introduced to the Harbor by Mike Page, a Jostens Representative, whose daughter just happened to also be in my class. Mike explained that Jostens had formed a partnership with Mike Smith, and all he wanted me to do was watch the first episode on Judgment. As I sat and watched, so many ideas and thoughts began to circulate through my mind. My initial reaction was that anything that involved Mike Smith was going to be adaptable, easily understood, and applicable to this generation of young leaders and students. The message was clear, it was thought-provoking, it made you want to be a better person and to seek out opportunities to reach out to those in need. And thus it started. I began using one of the Harbor video’s every week in my class. We centralized our focus on becoming better people and identifying how we could enact change in our school. My students and I were lucky enough to attend Jostens Renaissance Conference in St. John, Michigan, where we listened to Mike as the Keynote speaker. We were completely blown away, and at this point, I knew that I had to figure out a way to get Mike Smith to speak at Clarkston High School.

I left the conference that day with a mission to have Mike be our kickoff speaker for our annual Charity Week, which takes place in February every year. His story is so real, so identifiable, and so heart-warming, that so many students hear his message and feel like he’s speaking directly to them. So, we booked him to speak February 8, 2016, and he made such an impact on our school that teachers and students continue to talk about him today. Staff utilizes his videos for lessons, they engage students in becoming better people, and our students feel a sense of value and impact on those around them.

During Mike’s visit, he talked with me about wanting to extend the opportunity to create Harbor episodes that were student based. With this in mind, I started a conversation with my class, with Lauren Culver, the Executive Producer for ITV, and with Scott Banks, our Media teacher, to see how we could accomplish creating videos that were viable resources for our teachers and that were structured similarly to the videos Mike and Jostens had created. Lauren and I started taking a deeper look at how we could accomplish the task of creating high quality videos that not only portray the same images, but similar messages from the student perspective.

As we began digesting all of the information, Lauren and I realized that this would be a great way to truly connect our community, our students, and our local television station. In Clarkston, our local television station is called Independence Television. Independence TV and Clarkston Community Schools created a partnership three years ago in which the television station is now located directly in our high school. Our media teacher, Scott Banks, along with Independence TV’s producers and staff, as well as Clarkston High School’s students, work within the school to produce the stations content. As an Executive Producer, Lauren is working with both ITV staff at the station and students to produce the videos.

Each video is being filmed inside ITV’s studio. They are filmed using two film cameras and proper studio lighting and audio gear. Moreover, the lighting is designed to reflect the look of current Harbor episodes. The crate that we are currently using is an old prop from the musical, Annie Get Your Gun. Our theater department graciously donated the crate while two of our vocational students began building a new crate. The crate is currently being updated by students in the vocational construction program through the Oakland Technical Center. OTC is a school which is run by Oakland Schools, and gives students at Clarkston, as well as other Oakland County Schools, the opportunity to enroll in vocational classes which are extremely hands-on. The music score is designed by a Clarkston student named, Garrison Sigmon. The collaboration through various programs and departments in the school has allowed our students to obtain a better understanding and real world look at what it takes to make a TV show.

As Lauren and I began this journey, we put a lot of thought into the setting, the visual representation, as well as the prompting that we were utilizing with each of the students. We focused on keeping our questions open-ended. We wanted students to have a voice that was powerful and that would empower those that were watching, so we gave students the opportunity to talk about topics that exuded passion. As we communicated our intentions and expectations, students identified how and why they were impacted by Mike’s videos, and wanted to draw on many of the same concepts. They loved that there were a variety of speakers, that they were real people, that there was an attainable goal, that the stories and lessons were an open forum, which didn’t tell them what to do, but rather asked them how they’d accomplish a particular feat. Students viewed Mike as an equal who was challenging them to ask questions, to be better people, but at the same time, his message evoked a sense of self and allowed the students to truly embrace who they are. Mike made them realize their capabilities, he made them want to make an impact and leave a legacy that they could be proud of.

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