Pomona student projects combine film with cancer awareness

School enters nonprofit’s statewide competition

Casey Van Divier
cvandivier@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 2/18/20

Many of the students in Pomona High School’s video production elective grew up sharing their ideas with the world. Juniors Isaac Rosasco and Gage Fish posted videos on YouTube when they were …

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Pomona student projects combine film with cancer awareness

School enters nonprofit’s statewide competition

Posted

Many of the students in Pomona High School’s video production elective grew up sharing their ideas with the world. Juniors Isaac Rosasco and Gage Fish posted videos on YouTube when they were younger. Senior Tanner Heng currently runs a YouTube channel where he shares music videos he’s edited to popular songs. Senior Shayla Crumb Potmesil creates promotional videos for family members’ businesses.

But a winter class project for the third annual Catch It In Time video project will give students a new opportunity to create videos for the public eye.

The goal of the Catch It In Time nonprofit is “to bring storytelling to cancer awareness” and encourage early detection of the disease, said executive director Keith Singer. “One of the reasons so many more young people are being diagnosed is they’re just not aware of it.”

The nonprofit’s statewide contest asks students to submit three-minute videos to raise cancer awareness, particularly for young adults.

“The content is up to them,” Singer said. “What they come up with is just amazing.”

‘Doing it for a reason’

As of Feb. 3, students from five Colorado schools had decided to participate in the contest, which will accept submissions through March 31 at videochallenge.catchitintime.org.

Several winners will receive prizes ranging from video production equipment to an internship with Catch It In Time. The winning videos will be featured on the Catch It In Time website.

Students may also choose to donate prizes to their school, said Olivia Newman, who teaches the Pomona elective.

This year will be the first Pomona is participating in the competition, Newman said.

“I admire my students so much for jumping into this with me,” she said. “I’ve never seen them so driven.”

Senior Emillee Beltran agreed that the students have extra motivation for the project.

“We’re doing it for a reason,” she said, “so there’s more of a reason to put our hearts into it.”

Over the course of several weeks, the students have been working in groups to research, storyboard, script, shoot and edit their videos. Singer and some of the nonprofit’s partners, including Sarah Cannon Cancer Care and Research, have spoken to the class to provide background information for the project.

Now, students are relying on their unique talents to make their videos stand out. Fish and Rosasco plan to produce a parody infomercial, while juniors Hayden Cameron, Presley Larson and Isaiah Nelson are producing a rap video for their project — the “first musical project” they’ve been able to complete in class, Larson said.

“We wanted to do something we like and challenge ourselves creatively,” Cameron said.

Crumb Potmesil and senior Britany Petersen’s project will also rely on music. In fact, it will rely completely on music, as opposed to any dialogue, to convey their video’s message, they said.

They added they have enjoyed the chance to join a film competition at a young age.

“It’s cool to have a practical application for our skills so early on in life,” Crumb Potmesil said.

A meaningful message

Through Catch It In Time, teachers can apply for grants to provide students with the equipment they need. The process saw Pomona receive new audio equipment that will remain at the school even after the project is finished.

“It’s a good chance for them to see that just because you’re trying to do something for the community, you get rewarded,” Newman said.

The project stands out among the videos the students have created so far, they said, not only because of its role in a state contest but also because of the topic it focuses on.

“I’ve never thought of getting tested for cancer,” Rosasco said, but research has shown him the importance of paying attention to symptoms.

He and Fish hope their video will help the nonprofit in its mission to create a culture in which cancer screenings for younger people “would just be normal,” Rosasco said.

While teenagers often hear messages like this, “it comes off as more understanding” when communicated by their peers, Fish said.

Nelson, his classmate, agreed, saying this has added to the importance of the project.

“A lot of us have already lost people to cancer,” Nelson said. “If we can help people catch it before it’s too late, they won’t have to live through that.”

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