Philly journalism students use video to explore MOVE bombing, the decline of bees, standardized testing, more

    Over spring break, WHYY hosted a week-long day camp for Philadelphia middle school students interested in learning about journalism. The 25 students formed five groups, each led by an adult mentor, to produce a video on a topic of their choice.

    Their work is featured here with introductions from each team.

    Students Request Historical Plaque for MOVE House

    By Yasmin Brown, Alex Fraser, Aylin Havel, Jabari Hawk, and Lillian McClure

    Our video story [shown above] is about a group of sixth grade students putting up a historical marker to memorialize the MOVE bombing.

    I think this story needs to be told, because new generations don’t know much about this history. Even though I am 14 years old, I know more than kids at my school about Philadelphia history. In West Philadelphia I was born and raised. I have lived in the area for all my life.

    I heard of this story after I met Ramona Africa, the only adult survivor of the bombing. I used to do karate with her grandchildren. When I rode the school bus in the morning, I would pass that block without knowing about what happened. My father has told me this story briefly, but when I started to do this project, he told me everything I needed to know. My father is in the music business, and he has known Andino Ward (the father of Birdie Africa, the only child to survive the bombing) for about 25 years.

    I think this topic is very touchy, but this story needs to be told. People will try to avoid this topic, but you can’t avoid talking about what has happened in the past. Now that I pass this block, I imagine blocks and blocks of rowhomes being burned to the ground and feel the hurt of being burned by the blazing flames.

    —Yasmin Brown

    The Decline of Bees

    By Daniela Velasquez, Avery McLaughlin, Helena Seven, Lauren Stuckey, and Lily Egbert

    We agreed that it would be important to inform others about how the endangerment of bees is impacting the environment and our health. Bees contribute to most of the foods that we eat by pollinating plants, so it is important to keep them alive.

    We interviewed Philadelphia beekeepers Jeff Eckel and Tanya Veitch for their perspectives on this topic. Unfortunately, Ms. Veich had recently lost many of her bees, while Mr. Eckel’s hives seemed to be more successful. Both had faced different problems, such as the blood-sucking varroa mite and herbicides that are decreasing their bee populations. However, they presented the solutions they believe will help the bees, and we are hopeful about their future.

    —Helena Saven

    Creativity Cannot Be Tested

    By Natalie Kelmelis, Albert Chan, Aarushi Mandelia, and Tiguida Kaba

    My group was already thinking about doing a video about education. We agreed to do standardized testing. I had to do the PSSAs recently, and I find them boring and uninteresting, and I wanted to see other people’s views and opinions on the topic.

    The experience of doing this video has been fun for me. I was able to go to a high school to learn about people’s lives, go to the School District of Philadelphia for the first time, and learn about people’s views and opinions just liked I hoped.

    —Tiguida Kaba

    Green Philly

    By Lucas Davis, Peirce Ellis, Zuri Cox-Parks, Ariana Velasquez, and Suhan Neema

    The sun stares down on my dark hair as we sit on the benches talking. The abnormally hot day was filled with B-roll shots, editing, and critiques. Now in our new groups, we were discussing what our new video topic should be. Our list grew longer and longer as the time passed: education reform, murals, local businesses, local food, and green spaces. That last one won out, because we knew the city was pushing an initiative to make Philly the greenest city in America.

    As we gathered more interviews, we noticed our piece was straying from green spaces. From neighborhood tree planting to teaching people how to cultivate urban agriculture, our piece became more about groups than green spaces themselves. So we redrew our plan. The aim of our project now is to highlight three different organizations that work together to benefit Philadelphia’s environment and community.

    —Suhan Neema

    Does school prepare you for life?

    By Maeve Pinheiro, Joy Donovan, Lucas Fraser, Seen Amin, and Raven Lewis

    Students in this group asked members of the public and some experts about how well they think their education prepared them for the real world. Many agreed that students have much to learn beyond the standard curriculum. A retired Montessori teacher talked about how classrooms that incorporate critical thinking and group work can help kids learn life skills. And Andrew Hill, from the Economic Education Program at the Federal Reserve in Philadelphia, told the group about his work training teachers how to incorporate personal finance and economics into the classroom.

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