Hamilton Middle School students are benefitting from the collaboration between three local student enrichment programs: Gifted and Talented (SPECTRA), and Keystone and MAPS After School Programs.

The three programs are sharing resources, expertise and time to produce high-quality student created advertisements for the persuasive techniques unit Gifted Specialist Arielle Rhodz teaches in her class.

“Groups have scripted, directed, edited and produced advertisements to demonstrate purposeful persuasion of a target audience,” Rhodz said. “I’ve taught marketing to them all quarter and many of them are great at analyzing when they are being marketed to and not falling for it but also cleverly able to do it. In the past, we’ve shared the ads in class but we’re looking for a more authentic audience.”

Rhodz said the middle school students appreciate working with MAPS director Lucas Laparra and using cutting-edge technology production equipment.

On Thursday, during class time Joe Byrne, Keystone director, walked the seventh grade students across the street to the MAPS studios to act, direct and record their ads. Byrne maximized student involvement and served as audio technician.

“They are getting real-world experience and Joe’s participation triples the productivity of the program,” Rhodz said. “It gives the students the chance to make something truly professional. Any time students get to work in an authentic situation with authentic audiences, it makes it more exciting and real-life.”

Seventh grade student Donnie Jordan III was the director of the group. He ran the slate and kept track of the scenes, yelling “action” and “cut.” Collin Shook, Cadogan Wheat and Derek Twardoski were the actors for the groups’ ‘Mars Shrink-O-Matic’ ad. The actors wrapped up in bright green fabric for the recording. The color green will be replaced with a different image in the editing process showing the actors as talking heads. They read cue cards, and experienced studio work and deadline pressures.

Jordan summed up the script by saying the plot is about a future time when the earth is being destroyed but technology evolved making it possible to live on Mars.

“We’re selling luggage,” Jordan said. “It’s like ‘you’ve packed your bags and we’re going to take you there.’ We are selling the ‘Shrink-O-Matic’ luggage to travelers that want to bring a lot of stuff. I learned a lot about being a director today. It was fun.”

Clare Ann Harff, president of the MAPS program, said the students benefit from all three programs.

“A workshop like this with the seventh graders is really exciting for us because MAPS welcomes a younger audience,” she said. “These are the kids that might take a summer class or enroll in MAPS when they are old enough so it gives them an idea of who we are and what we do.”

Laparra said the filming session on Thursday was a “crunch course.”

“Today they learned film making through camera work, audio, green screen, acting and directing,” Lapara said.

The students will do the editing of the project in the SPECTRA classroom.

Rhodz said the collaboration began because of a presentation by Harff at the start of the school year.

“I was inspired to collaborate with her because of her enthusiasm for enriching local students,” Rhodz said. “There are similarities between Spectra’s Independent Studies program at HMS and HHS and the student driven projects of MAPS. We also have many current and former students in common who thrive when given the opportunity and resources to demonstrate talent and interests in student-made projects.”

Byrne said the Keystone Afterschool Program is also providing students opportunities to work with MAPS.

SPECTRA and Keystone are k-12 and Hamilton-based but MAPS 8-12 is valley-wide.

“We thought what kind of opportunities we could provide and decided to pool our resources,” Rhodz said. “The spirit of collaboration between these programs ultimately benefits and enriches the learning experience for local students. There are many opportunities for kids to expand their interests and talents, as this project exemplifies.”