Student Well-Being

Video Whizzes

By Jessica L. Tonn — June 21, 2005 1 min read

The message is simple: “There are many choices in life. It’s up to you to make the right ones.”

But those two lines of script, combined with the image of a teenage boxer choosing to drink a bottle of water over a bottle of beer, were powerful enough to merit the grand prize in the Courageous Persuaders contest, an annual competition for public-service commercials created by high school students that warn of the dangers of underage drinking.

This year’s grand-prize winner, Keith Wilson, a senior at Dearborn High School in Dearborn, Mich., earned the award last month, and the $3,000 scholarship that accompanies it, after he completed the 30-second commercial as an assignment for his class in advanced video production.

Several other students from the 1,600-school also picked up accolades.

Stephen Joseph, a senior, won the $2,000 Adcrafter prize for his animated clip informing teenagers that four out of five students don’t drink alcohol.

Junior Matt Thiesen’s commercial depicting a young girl making a birthday card for a friend killed by a drunk driver received the $1,000 second prize. Its title: “Too Young to Die.”

Two additional Dearborn High students were finalists.

Dearborn High media teacher Kurt Doelle said that his advanced-level students have produced commercials for the program for the past four years, but have never reaped this year’s level of success.

“They got into it more this year than in other years,” he said.

According to Mr. Doelle, Mr. Wilson spent at least 35 hours creating the “Choices” video, and fastidiously kept a production log of his work.

As grand-prize winner, the spot eventually will be broadcast on commercial television.

The Courageous Persuaders awards are administered by the Detroit office of the New York City-based advertising firm McCann Erickson and the Troy, Mich.-based Courage First Foundation, which produces educational programs about the risks of drug and alcohol use for middle and high school students.

The program is supported by grants from foundations and government agencies and by donations.

The winning entries can be viewed online at the Web site www.courageouspersuaders.com.

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