Karlton Dunn clearly imagines his video: first a panoramic shot of Mount Royal Middle School, then dancers -- actually fellow classmates -- doing unusual steps. Then he'll appear, microphone in hand, and lay down a rap something like this:
"Indicate it, duplicate it.
When you go to school, don't be late.
With this rhyme, be on time.
Buy a gold, make it shine.
Go to school, don't be a fool.
You'll just walk around think you're cool."
The video Karlton plans to make is one of perhaps scores of music videos that will be produced by and star youngsters from the city's 26 public middle schools as part of a national effort by Foot Locker, an athletic-supply chain, to encourage students to stay in school.
All of the two-to-three-minute videos will have a stay-in-school theme. Judges selected by the company will pick a winner before the end of the current semester.
And all of the students and faculty at the school from which the winning video was made will receive a free pair of athletic shoes. In the case of Mount Royal Middle, that could mean nearly 800 pairs of shoes.
But for Karlton, 14, an eighth-grader at Mount Royal, the words and theme for the video came easily, and it's something he practices daily -- coming to school, that is, not rapping.
"Staying in school is not the problem with me," he said. "If I can get the video together, I think I can win it."
The videotaping will be done either by students who have their own video cameras or with cameras supplied by the schools. There is no limit on the number of youngsters who may submit videotapes.
Baltimore is one of six cities where middle or junior high school students can compete in making stay-in-school videos. The others are Washington, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Houston and Detroit.
The promotional campaign began in Washington in 1989.
"The kids seem to like this thing, and it keeps them interested in school," Earnest Byner, a running back on the Washington Redskins football team and chairman for the campaign, said yesterday during an assembly at Mount Royal.
"The idea is to make them interested in school now. You don't want to wait until they are too old and have no interest. The situation is, they have to accept responsibility. That's why it's important to me."
Foot Locker and school officials said the program is geared toward middle school students, who are not generally old enough to drop out of school legally. Under Maryland law, you must stay in school until age 16.
Frank Whorley, principal at Mount Royal, said dropouts and truancy are not a problem at his school.
"We're usually academically-oriented," Mr. Whorley said. "The theory is, if we start early the students will stay in school."
Aneesah Adams, an eighth-grader, said a lot of students at Mount Royal have been "hyping up" the videos.
"I think I can make the rap up in one night," Aneesah said.