Drug abuse has been a problem amongst teenagers for years, and often peer pressure can influence a high school-aged student in a negative way. But at South High School, 28 video technology students created anti-drug public service announcements, and one student took home second place in Nassau County’s High School Drug Abuse Awareness Contest.
Ashley Villanueva, a 16-year-old junior, filmed her PSA in one day in October then edited it on her own before sharing it with her class. Her stop-motion PSA touched on the negative effects that drug use can have on a person. Fellow junior Anisah Singh starred in the video and held signs with facts about drug use that appear word-by-word.
Villanueva said she loves doing anything artistic and had some experience behind the camera, although she taught herself stop-motion prior to the project. “I was excited,” she said of learning of the project. “It was a chance to show off what I can do. It was right up my alley.”
Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano sent letters to schools across the county in September inviting students to participate in the contest in conjunction with its new initiative: Join the FAD (Families Against Drugs).
South video technology teacher and Valley Stream Mayor Ed Fare then asked his class to participate. Of the 28 students who made a PSA, eight were submitted to the county for consideration. Prior to the submission process, the videos were screened in class.
“When Principal [Maureen] Henry came in and said we had a winner, not only was I pleased and happy, but I definitely wasn’t shocked,” Fare said. “The eight we sent were good.”
Eden Laikin, chair of the Nassau County Prescription Drug Misuse and Abuse Prevention Committee, said that eight districts and nine high schools participated in the contest. Sixty-eight students submitted PSAs in all and a panel of judges ultimately selected the winners. Monetary prizes were awarded to the top four finishers, including a $300 prize to Villanueva from the contest’s sponsor, Bethpage Federal Credit Union.