PARIS — The Advanced Communications program at Oxford Hills Technical School has been named one of 100 nationwide finalists for a public service video on distracted driving it submitted to the State Farm Insurance “Celebrate my Drive” contest.
“We found out Friday that we are one of 100 national finalists, the only one from Maine,” said Shawn Lambert, school director. “We are now in the open voting portion of the contest. From Nov. 9 to Nov. 13, the public is invited to vote electronically.”
Students across the country were asked to submit public service announcements demonstrating how they would raise awareness for the company’s Drive 2N2 promotion.
Drive 2N2 means two eyes on the road and two hands on the wheel.
The top 22 vote-getting schools each get a $100,000 grant, Lambert said.
The advanced communications class, which is supervised by teacher Robert Benica, made a video showing how silly it is to try to do things with one hand.
“Going into the contest I thought we were a big long shot, however, after seeing the work that the students put together I think we might actually have a good chance,” Benica said.
The 30-second spot starts out by stating, “You wouldn’t do this with one hand,” and shows a student trying various tasks, including tying a shoelace, eating a sandwich, carrying a boxed 50-inch television and lifting a heavy barbell and other activities.
It continues, “So why would you do this,” and it shows a young man texting and driving. “2 eyes on the road, 2 hands on the wheel,” it concludes.
Benica called the PSA “a really effective spot.”
“It’s simple but creative. Most importantly, it’s memorable and I think it really has a chance to change students’ behavior,” said Benica, who teaches three levels of the advanced communications class. “The students are all very excited about having their PSA selected and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
The students learn the skills necessary for a job in media arts such as film, television and independent productions or even YouTube.
Benica said first year students study focuses on visual literacy and showing students different types of projects one can do with this background. The students learn how to use cameras, microphones, lights, editing systems and other post-production programs used for special effects, animation and motion graphics.
They learn how to write and format various types of scripts, proposals and treatments. They also learn how to deal with copyright issues. Projects completed during the course of study that first year are commercials, music videos, documentaries, short films, news and a newscast. Another project each first student completes is a public service announcement (PSA).
“Why not try for the grant and help the school and its students?” Benica said he asked himself.
Benica said the students were asked to do some research into distracted driving with a focus on teen drivers and then come up with an idea for a PSA. Students were then split into groups and asked to write a script based on one of the ideas. The groups wrote, shot and edited the PSAs as a group, Benica explained.
Lambert and assistant director Jane Munn viewed the three PSAs and selected the one that was entered in the contest.
“The winning PSA was a simple, yet clever take on the problem of distracted driving. It drives home the idea of keeping both hands on the wheel,” Benica said. “They had a lot of fun coming up with ideas of things no one would do with one hand.”
Benica and Lambert are now asking everyone to view the video and cast their vote, which ends Friday, Nov. 13.
Lambert warned that voters must check the box to receive emails from State Farm and they will send an email to verify the vote. A voter must click verify in the email for the vote to count. This is being done to eliminate automatic votes, Lambert said. A voter can unsubscribe once the competition is over.
According to the rules, eligible voters must be 14 years or older to participate and are allowed to vote once per day, per email address. Households with multiple email addresses can vote multiple times per day.
Lambert said voters can sort the video state by state to find Maine, then enter an email address and check the box. Make sure to verify your vote in the return email or it doesn’t count, he said.
“Return to vote each day to ensure the best chance of our school receiving the $100,000 funds,” Lambert said in an email. “Also, don’t forget to pass the word to all your friends and family. It is a nationwide vote; don’t forget about your Facebook contacts. Please help our students finish the work they started by helping to bring a financial windfall to our school!”
The video and voting can be accessed through the website at www.celebratemydrive.com/?state=ME&vote=#section-voting.