Starkville School District video garners national attention

August 13, 2009 10:16:00 AM

Tim Pratt -


Working in the video production business, Robbie Coblentz doesn''t often get chills when he views a piece of work. 


But a video his company put together for the Starkville School District over the summer recently made his hair stand on end.  


The video, titled "Believe," is a compilation of Starkville students, teachers and administrators, each of whom tells a bit about his or her self, their plans for the future, and other interesting tidbits. It''s a firsthand look at the people who make up the Starkville School District and, since it was placed on YouTube on Aug. 3, the video has received more than 3,000 views, including looks from as far away as New York, Washington, D.C., and North Dakota. A writer for even plans to do a story about the production on his blog, Coblentz said. 


"The response that we''ve gotten is very exciting," Starkville schools Public Information Officer Nicole Thomas said. "That''s definitely not why we set out to do the video. We wanted to inspire our own. But to know that the video inspires so many who really believe in the power of public education, I think that is great. The video is just a testimony to that power." 


The concept was proposed by Starkville schools Superintendent Judy Couey, who saw an online video of a student giving a convocation speech. Couey then told Thomas about the video and the pair decided to bring a similar concept to Starkville.  


Thomas contacted Coblentz with the idea at his business on North Jackson Street, Broadcast Media. 


Between February and April, Broadcast Media interviewed more than 120 students and 15 to 18 teachers, Coblentz said. Students from each school and grade in the district, from all races and backgrounds, were interviewed. Topics ranged from their favorite subjects to what it means to believe in their schools.  


Laura Crum, a producer at Broadcast Media, was the lead editor on the project and was in charge of picking and choosing what clips to include in the final product. But the choices weren''t easy, she said. 


"There were so many kids and, especially the younger ones, they were all so cute," Crum said with a laugh. "You wanted to pick not only the ones who would make you go ''Aww,'' but the ones who said something that really captured what went with the message and went with the flow that we wanted. The most difficult part really was narrowing down all of that." 


Coblentz estimated about 120 production hours went into the video. When Superintendent Couey finally saw the finished product, however, all the hard work seemed to pay off, Crum said. 


"I was a little nervous because it was my first bigger project," Crum said of Couey''s first viewing. "But she watched it and she teared up a little bit and I was thinking, ''Well I think she likes it.'' Then she gave me a big hug so I knew she liked it." 


Couey on Tuesday praised the video once again. 


"This video represents the best that we have to offer," Couey said. "Our greatest resources are our students and our teachers and our belief in each other."  


The school district first showed the video to teachers and administrators Aug. 4 and it was greeted enthusiastically. The comments on Youtube also praise the 4 minute and 46-second piece.  


The praise has made an already entertaining project worthwhile, Crum said.  


"It really was a lot of fun to make," she said. "It was a good message and the kids were all so into it. It wasn''t just, ''Yeah. Whatever.'' You could tell they really cared." 


"Their personalities really shined through," Thomas chimed in. "Even if it''s just a second or two of them saying something, you can really see the different personalities. It''s so authentic." 


"I very rarely get goosebumps, but while we were narrowing down our final cut, I knew it was a really special piece," Coblentz added. 


The school district ordered copies of the video on DVD, which it plans to distribute to local Realtors, the Greater Starkville Development Partnership and other organizations to promote city schools and recruit new residents. Parents also can receive a copy of the DVD by contacting the Starkville School District.