Westerville Central Principal Todd Spinner is pictured with Voice Club Members.
One could hear a pin drop on Monday evening, May 22, as Central Voice club members showed their newly-made video, We the People, during the Westerville City Schools Board of Education Meeting.
The powerful, 15-minute documentary is a significant achievement for the fledgling club, featuring interviews with English as a Second Language (ESL) students at Westerville Central, who talk about the difficulties of fitting in at high school while learning nuances of a new language and culture. They also share personal struggles about coming to America from often war-torn countries, where they had to leave friends, family members, and possessions behind. The film can be viewed on the Westerville City School District’s YouTube site at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HatsilPEKNE.
During the making of this movie, students learned filmmaking techniques and vocabulary, lighting techniques, frame composition, audio techniques, editing and narrative design. They wrote and conducted interviews with each other, directed on-set, and oversaw post-production. The film premiered at Westerville Central’s Arts Alive event, where it was seen by School Board President Rick Vilardo, who invited the group to show it at the Board meeting. It was also shown to students at Otterbein University, where pupils who appeared in and made the film participated in a post-screening question and answer session.
Central Voice was founded this year by ESL students and is open to all. Their mission is to promote understanding and friendship between people from diverse cultural backgrounds and to be a bridge to the wider school community through activities and events. The pupils named their club Central Voice because it honors both the fact that they go to Central High School and because it “gives voice” to their experiences as teenagers who are immigrants and minorities. Together they are learning about what it means be a person who lives in and understands two cultures – the one they were born into and the adopted one they live in as students at Central and residents of the United States. In many ways, the club also allows ESL pupils to support each other as they navigate education in a second language and unfamiliar cultural context.
Westerville Central Principal Todd Spinner said he was very proud of these courageous students for sharing their stories in such a profound and moving way.