By AMY ALONZO
November 11, 2014
Reprinted from The Winchester Star
WINCHESTER — Winchester Public School’s “Dream Project” is becoming a reality.
The Dream Project is part of a cultural competency activity that includes creating a video of students reciting Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
On Monday morning, the division’s more than 4,200 students, along with several hundred teachers and administrators, gathered in the Handley Bowl at Handley High School to begin filming the video.
With an aerial camera flying overhead, students and staff lifted their hands and recited lines from the famous civil rights speech, including its concluding words “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
Students and staff recited each line several times as the camera captured video and still images.
“You can feel the energy in here, can’t you?” said Winchester schools Superintendent Mark Lineburg, as cheers erupted from the students.
The project is the brainchild of several of the division’s teachers and administrators, including Lineburg and Handley art teacher Cosmo Balio, who is producing the video.
Balio coordinated with freelance photographer Shawn Galang of Winchester, who has a student at Handley, to have Galang film the crowd of students using an aerial camera. Galang volunteered his time and equipment.
“I’m kind of an out-of-the-box thinker, and I thought this would make a dramatic impact,” said Balio.
The portion filmed Monday is just one step in the process of putting together the video.
Last week, Balio began filming individual students reciting lines from the speech, and he will continue through December.
On Friday, Balio will travel with Handley Principal Jesse Dingle, Lineburg and several middle and high school students to Washington, D.C., to film part of the video at the Lincoln Memorial. King originally gave his speech outside the memorial on Aug. 28, 1963.
“I don’t want this to be just a video,” said Balio. “The video is the beginning of it [the cultural competency activities].”
The final video will be 25 to 30 minutes long. Plans are to have it completed by January for students to watch division-wide on Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan. 19). Balio said plans are to also have it stream online so the community can view it.
“We have a very diverse population in our schools,” said Assistant Superintendent Mark Miear. “We want to understand it. We think it is something to celebrate and talk about and continue to explore.”
Winchester Public Schools has an enrollment of 4,269 students, with about 32 percent of its students being Hispanic, about 11 percent black and about 8 percent as being from two or more ethnic backgrounds, according to statistics provided by the division. Another 3 percent is comprised of American Indian, Asian and Hawaiian students.
— Contact Amy Alonzo at email@example.com