Brooke Buchanan and Molly Growney create safety video for Kent county elementary schools and win Crime Prevention award

Katianna Mansfield

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I am okay now
February 16, 2018

The building is burning down. Flames encircle every entrance and exit, the people inhabiting the area are trapped inside for fear of severe bodily damage or even death.

What do they do in this situation?

Seniors Brooke Buchanan and Molly Growney assist Deputy Resources Officer of Kenowa Hills Tim Earhardt and Officer James Svoboda in the creation of a video to solve this exact issue in elementary schools all over Kent County.

The video is a three-year plan of Earhardt’s to teach and promote safety precautions any way they can. As Kenowa Hills does not have an FX team, Earhardt reached out to fellow officer Svoboda who works with FHC to get the ball rolling by finding someone to help film the video.

Svoboda got in touch with FHC FX teacher Jeff Manders hoping he had some students capable of the job, to which he presented him with production duo Brooke and Molly.

“Last year, Brooke and Molly did projects together all throughout their time with me,” Manders said, “and they were almost always high quality, they get the full story, and they could do it very quickly. They had almost worked ahead a full round of stories in front of everybody else. They had time, and I knew they could handle it and do a good job, so I gave [the project] to them.”

Molly and Brooke met up with Earhardt to discuss his ideas and hopes for the film, then with the information they needed, they started writing the script.

“I think the video could potentially impact a lot of young lives. Molly and Brooke did an excellent job; they were presented with what Deputy Earhardt was looking for, and they took charge.””

— Officer James Svoboda

Filming a safety video for children, the two girls were frightened that they could write or film a scene incorrectly and greatly influence many children’s ideas of what to do in a truly dangerous situation.

“What if these kids actually get into a situation where they’re in a house fire or a school shooting or something,” Brooke said, “and they think back to the video and try to listen to our advice? What if we say something wrong? What if they end up getting hurt because of it?”

Despite their anxieties, the young women finished writing the script and turned it in to the policemen.

Once the script was finalized, and they were ready to start filming, Svoboda found two fifth-graders at Central Woodlands to star in the film and a classroom they could use for shooting in.

The first portion of the film was shot at Central Woodlands, then the girls were informed that there was a building the fire department was planning on burning down, and they could use it to film. They were able to simulate how to escape in a dangerous situation by having the kids actually break a window, climb out, and run to safety.

“The process took quite a while because I was slow at editing, but we turned it in,” Molly said. “We just turned in the video and went back and forth making some changes with the officers, and we thought it was done and set. That was going to be that, it was going to be shown in schools, and that was it.”

Little did Molly, Brooke, and Manders know that Earhardt had entered their video into the Crime Prevention Association of Michigan (CPAM), to which they actually won the Outstanding Youth Project Award for 2017.

“It was exactly what I wanted. I was so impressed with them,” Earhardt said. “Those two young ladies did such great work. I entered it into CPAM, and obviously, CPAM agreed with me. They won the award.”

Neither girls knew anything about the award until the officers, Principal Steve Passinault, and Manders entered their classrooms and presented it to them.

“I think the video could potentially impact a lot of young lives,” Svoboda said. “Molly and Brooke did an excellent job, they were presented with what Deputy Earhardt was looking for, and they took charge.”

Molly and Brooke gained skill and talent in real life filming and working with actual clients; in the beginning, they were only looking to add background to their filming record.

Adding to the experience, the award will be presented to the girls in Traverse City in front of many officers and people. Brooke and Molly are staying in a complimentary hotel room on October 17th and will be attending the award ceremony banquet and missing school the next day to be celebrated.

“I am extremely impressed with those two young ladies,” Earhardt said. “I don’t think there are two people that would be more able to do what they did with what they had. It was incredible.”