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SLC students sending video budget message to Albany (VIDEO)

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BRASHER FALLS - A St. Lawrence Central School senior is hoping a video she wrote and directed will stir some conversation in Albany about the inequity in school funding.

Kelsey Newtown, president of the Student Council, presented her 5 minute and 18 second video to board of education members last week, and she and others are encouraging everyone to share it wherever they can.

“We Are SLC” features students explaining why their school is so important to them. Ms. Newtown said that it was an important message to share with elected officials who might not even know where Brasher Falls is since it didn’t appear on a county map when she found while doing a Google search for a science project.

“There was a circle where Brasher was. There was no Brasher,” she said.

The video project came to fruition after she received a Facebook message from her music teacher, Jamie LaBarge, telling her that things weren’t looking good for the state budget. Ms. Newtown had done other videos in the past, and Ms. LaBarge wondered if there was something she could do to drive home the importance of the school’s programs.

Ms. Newtown said she talked with administrators about her plan to shoot the video.

“I decided to make a video to show all the different aspects of our school,” she said. “For the most part I just gave a little explanation to people in my classes and made a list of all the different extracurricular activities in school.”

She found fellow students - mainly seniors, but also including some underclassmen - who were involved in those activities and would share their feelings about them.

“In those classes I announced what I was doing and asked the teacher if I could take a couple of minutes to take (the students) out in the hall or the music room and get 5 minutes of filming,” Ms. Newtown said. “I started filming Tuesday morning around 8 a.m. I worked right through until the middle of the night. On Wednesday I woke up at 6:30 in the morning and finished it. I wanted to get it done by the board meeting, and I wanted to get it out before April 1 (the state budget deadline).”

When the filming was done, she had more than she could use.

“I picked the best. I didn’t want it too long or too short. I wanted to make it easy to watch and not take up too much time,” Ms. Newtown said.

The video, which had 357 views on YouTube as of Wednesday, details some of the opportunities at the school.

“Even though we’re small, we still have provided all these great opportunities,” it notes.

“Having vocal music in our school has just brought out so much more confidence in me,” Madee Derouchie explains.

“Whiz Quiz really helped me grow as a person,” Shane Fuentes says. “I have met a lot of classmates I thought I wouldn’t be close with as well as get my speaking skills up to par.”

Sports have also played a large role in students’ lives, they said.

“One way sports has helped me is it’s taught me to be a leader both on and off the court and field,” Josh White said.

The programs have also helped students decide their future plans in many cases.

“Band at SLC has helped me decide that I want to go into a career in music education,” Sierra Sicard said, while Abby Alford notes that the school’s language program helped her decide to become a linguist.

“I guess the point that we’re really to drive across is, even though we’re small, it doesn’t mean that we’re not educating or properly educating possibly the person who will hold the cure for cancer or be the next Nobel Peace Prize winner or have some great ideas for clean energy,” Ms. Newtown says in the video.

“Can we really waste that because we can’t find funding? It’s not just the science or the music or the sports or the math or the history or the business or the tech that makes up SLC. We make it up together. We are, and I am SLC,” she says before other shots of individuals repeating the mantra, “I am SLC.”

“And I fully understand that your job isn’t easy,” she tells elected officials, “but please don’t forget us.”

Ms. Newtown said she’s encouraging everyone to spread the video message as budget decisions are made in Albany. She provides links on her Facebook page to encourage emails to elected officials with a link to the video.

“If they keep receiving the link, they’ll be more likely to watch it. We have until (April 1) to remind Albany the north country still exists. It’s us, the small schools, that are going to take the hardest hit if they forget we are here,” she said.

Ms. Newtown said that, although she’ll be graduating in June, she wants to ensure the school is around for other students in the years ahead.

“My parents grew up in and went to Brasher. I’ve known no other school than Brasher. I don’t want to see us in five years merging or closing,” she said.

SLC students share budget message
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