Friendship's cat video wins award

May 09, 1994|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Sun Staff Writer

The fifth-graders seem a little embarrassed at all the attention their videotape is getting.

After all, the tape is only three minutes long, the title is "Cats: Do's and Don'ts," and everything from the idea to the result is pretty goofy, they say.

But it was good enough to win the elementary-level competition for Carroll County schools and to go to the Maryland School Media Festival.

It started in fifth-grade teacher Patricia McTighe's classroom at Friendship Valley Elementary School about two months ago. Students Brian Groves and Joe Geiman were talking about the book, "Everything I Need to Know, I Learned From My Cat," a take-off on the book with a similar title about kindergarten.

They started talking about funny things cats do, with the intention of making their own book. Other students joined the fun.

"We were sitting at the table and butting in," said classmate Sara Sateri.

Ms. McTighe liked their idea and suggested they turn it into a script.

"The contest just happened to be going on at the same time," Sara said.

Because Sara is an experienced camera operator, she did the taping.

Sara also does the regular school closed-circuit newscasts, and shot the footage for a videotape the school made for another school in Missouri. The students are sending books and other items to students in Midwestern states that were flooded.

Brian, Joe, Sean Finch and Willy Wagner, all fifth-graders, shared other producing and performance tasks, such as making two cat puppets, Frisky and Friskyet, then operating them in front of the camera.

"It was time-consuming," Sara said. "We taped it more than once, and we had to stop all the time to get our set ready."

Other delays occurred when a puppet's eye would fall off in the middle of the shoot.

Or Willy would forget not to talk while the camera and audio were taping.

"It was fun, but I wouldn't want to make a career out of it," Sara said. The others agreed.

"Too much stress," Joe said.

The students enjoyed working on the project, but Sara said she wished it hadn't interfered with the period when students have time to write in their journals.

"We kept missing writing workshop. I hate missing writing workshop," she said.

Later, media specialist Dina Shein, who submitted the finished tape for the students, said it warmed her heart to hear Sara say that.

"Isn't that nice to hear?" she said. "They love writing and they hate to miss it."

Used free time

Ms. Shein said the students put in much of their free time. They sewed the puppets and worked on backgrounds at home.

On May 26, they will go to Towson for the state competition. It is possible their whole class may go, she said, but arrangements are pending.

In addition to seeing other videos and photographs entered in the contest, the students may attend workshops in the morning.

The five video-makers will sit in on the judging of their three-minute videotape.

"The judges will say what's good, what's bad, how to improve," Ms. Shein said.

The students also will see other entries by students from around the state.

International competition

Winners of the state festival will go to the international competition in Nashville, Tenn., Ms. Shein said.

The students may be lucky Ms. Shein isn't one of the judges. She said she wished the students had a little more time to perfect their work.

"We were not allowed to assist them," she said.

The students had to do all the work alone. If they wanted to use any prerecorded music or a laugh track, they had to get written permission.

Because they had only about six weeks to tape, they chose not to use copyright music or sounds.

Second taping

The first time they showed the video to Ms. Shein, she said, she urged them to tape it all over again, to polish it.

Grudgingly, they did, and showed her the remake.

"I said, 'Are you satisfied with the way it is?' They said yes," Ms. Shein said.

She drove the finished tape to Towson, a day late after arranging for an extension of the deadline.

"We made it by the skin of our teeth," she said.

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