GREENFIELD — Dishes clanked loudly in the background as Jacob Mitchell conducted the interview.
As volunteers scrubbed plates from the lunch crowd at the Kenneth Butler Memorial Soup Kitchen in Greenfield, the Greenfield-Central High School junior remained focused on the task at hand: asking executive director Jill Ebbert questions about the nonprofit that feeds the hungry.
Wearing a dress shirt and bow tie — he wanted to look professional for his on-camera interview — Jacob sat in the makeshift studio created by high school students and invited Ebbert to talk about the soup kitchen’s mission and the difference it makes to those who come through the doors hungry and leave with a warm meal.
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The background noise, the visitors darting in and out, didn’t appear to bother him a bit. Two takes, and the interview was a wrap.
For their final project in their TV and radio class, Greenfield-Central students took the skills they’ve honed throughout the year out of the classroom. They were tasked with producing a promotional video for a local nonprofit — an effort that gave them real-world experience while providing deserving organizations in the county with material to promote their missions.
Thirty students split into seven groups to film and edit videos for the soup kitchen, Meal on Wheels, Hancock Hope House, Life Choices Care Center, The Landing, Hancock County Public Library and Regreening Greenfield.
The videos will air on NineStar Channel 9, and copies will be made available for the nonprofits to use wherever they’d like — Ebbert plans to post hers on the soup kitchen’s website.
Teachers wanted to get students out of the classroom and away from taking notes to give them a meaningful experience for their final project, said instructor Jonathan Hudson. By making videos for local nonprofts, the students were able to use their talents to give back to their community, he said.
The groups were responsible for identifying a nonprofit, working with its leaders to set up the interview and for filming and editing.
The students in the program consistently do good work, and the teachers knew the final projects would be rewarding and give students the opportunity to shine, Hudson said.
Jacob’s group picked the soup kitchen because they feel its a vital part of the community that needs as many volunteers as possible. They hope their video will encourage others to lend a hand furthering the organization’s efforts, he said.
Getting to work on an important project outside of the classroom and helping a local nonprofit spread its message is a unique experience, Jacob said. Plus, it gave him a taste of the professional world — a boost for the student who hopes to pursue radio for his future career.
Interviewing Ebbert on camera was somewhat nerve-wracking, he said, despite his past experience on camera. He didn’t want to mess up, and his group was being timed. They were given 12 minutes to set up and tear down their equipment, along with greeting and preparing their guest for the interview.
“I don’t exactly have nerves of steel,” Jacob admitted.
But if her counterparts were nervous, Ebbert couldn’t tell.
The students made her feel very comfortable on camera, she said, and they conducted themselves like professionals.
She’s grateful the group chose the soup kitchen because the organization likely wouldn’t be able to produce a video of its own, and even if volunteers could, the product wouldn’t be as polished, she said.
“Any publicity we can give the soup kitchen, I’m all for it,” Ebbert said. “I want the whole world to know about us.”
The class begin filming nonprofits about three weeks ago, and the final products will be ready Friday. They’ll premiere on NineStar in coming weeks.
Sophomore Layne Kintner said the project encompassed everything students learned throughout the year and gave them professional experience. Their teachers provided some guidelines but left the rest of the project to the students — much like what he anticipates working for a TV or radio station would be like.
“It was a really good time,” he said. “It gives you an idea of what you actually would experience in the field.”