Contemporary Issues encourages online safety

Logan Allan, Editor-in-Chief

The rise of social media has granted people countless opportunities, such as keeping people in contact even when they are not physically together. Unfortunately, social media has also been used as a platform to bully, cheat, and con other people.
At the beginning of the semester, Steve Darnell’s Contemporary Issues senior class was presented with the opportunity to pick a problem that affects society, and to solve that problem in whatever format they wanted.
“I wanted the students to pick the topic and the format because the ideas have to be organic,” Darnell said. “When the ideas are organic for an advocacy project like this, the students will be more motivated to invest their time and their minds because they chose to tackle that issue.”
The students ended up deciding to confront the topic of online safety in a video format, which will include interviews with students at the middle- and high-school level. They hope to show their final product to elementary and middle schools in the district to promote safe habits when using social media.
“The message of abstaining from using social media is one that often goes unheeded, so we decided to instead promote important safety precautions to take for the best social media experience,” senior Katie Wright said.
The class was divided into five groups after the topic of online safety awareness was agreed upon to be the topic for the advocacy project. The researchers, the script writers, the actors, the cinematographers, and the public relations team are separated so that each section can work individually, and then come together to make the whole product.
“With a project this big, we knew that we needed a public relations team so that we could reach out to the community and connect,” senior Caroline Dunlap said. “Two of the ways that we’ve chosen to do this is through the hashtag #AFOS, which stands for Awareness For Online Safety, and through surveys that we sent out to get feedback on our community’s social media experiences.”
In addition to connecting with the community, the students wanted concrete facts about various safety hazards on the internet, so the students decided to form a research team.
“As a researcher, I was a part of the foundation of the whole project, because the researchers really had to find and narrow down the biggest aspects of social media safety that we needed to address in our video,” senior Lilli Donahoe said.
Senior Nick Bartholet is on the cinematographer team. He’s working to pull the project together by connecting with each section.
“While the public relations team reaches out to the community, and the researchers give their findings to the script writers, I’m connecting with the script writing team, because once we have the script, it’s a green light for the actors and the cinematography team,” Bartholet said. “From what I’ve heard, the script writers have planned a lot of interviewing segments with middle and high schoolers, which will prove to be interesting and challenging.”
The projected finalization date of the video project is January 12, 2017.Principal Sean Martin is intrigued by the impact that this student-led, problem-solving based project could make.
“I hope that this project will have the potential to show kids coming up from elementary and middle school that they can tackle issues and they can take initiative to make a change,” Martin said.