Newark Student’s PSA Draws Attention to Cyber Bullying

By Michelle Sartor Lang
Senior Multimedia Web Producer

East Side High School student Eric Arce with New Media Studies Teacher Tom Wolverton. Arce is a finalist in the Panasonic 2014 Kid Witness News New Vision Awards for a PSA he created about cyber bullying. Photo courtesy of Newark Public Schools.

Cyber bullying has become a major issue at schools with the popularity of social media sites among students. One student at East Side High School in Newark has created a public service announcement to raise awareness about cyber bullying through a powerful video. His PSA has earned him a top spot in the Panasonic 2014 Kid Witness News (KWN) New Vision Awards.

Eric Arce was enrolled in a video production class and was assigned to create a PSA. He chose to tackle the topical issue of cyber bullying. “I decided to do cyber bullying because I know it’s something that affects many teenagers and students today. And it’s something that you hear about often,” he said. “We hear a lot about physical bullying, verbally, so I thought I would talk about cyber bullying.”

One of Arce’s friends stars in the video and helped him with filming. Arce edited the video and New Media Studies Teacher Tom Wolverton helped add the finishing touches and correct any technical mistakes.

But Wolverton said Arce’s PSA started off strong. “When Eric showed me this piece, I was floored. Not only the technical quality that he brought to it and the variety of shots and the pacing,” he said. “It’s a great message. It’s a message that needs to get out.”

Wolverton said that the video is so powerful that it can’t be shown on the digital TV screens throughout East Side High School. “You need to see this piece from beginning to end,” he said. “It’s a topic that’s perfect for our teenagers and even for the middle school students. We’re super proud of Eric for this piece.”

East Side Principal Mario Santos said he was moved by Arce’s PSA. “I think there was a lot of feeling to it. Simple, yet powerful. When I saw it, I said, ‘This kid really has a good eye for capturing the attention of and getting right to the feelings of what words can do to someone.’ So I was very proud of Eric,” he said.

East Side High School student Eric Arce created this PSA that has been named a finalist in the Panasonic 2014 Kid Witness News (KWN) New Vision Awards.

Arce said he was a bit nervous to show his friends and peers the video because he wasn’t sure if they would take it seriously. “After we did show everybody, and we showed all my classes and my friends, they did take it seriously and they did congratulate me. It felt good just to show it to everybody and have them like it,” he said. “Most of them told me how good it was and how it made them feel and things like that. It was kind of cool to hear that from my friends and my classmates and my teachers.”

The cyber bullying PSA has landed Arce a spot as a finalist in the Panasonic 2014 KWN New Vision Awards in the social issues category. He shares that distinction with three other students — from Florida, Oklahoma and Colorado. He will join the other finalists for KWN Winners Weekend, which is an all expense paid trip to the New York/New Jersey area. Brittany Blackwell, coordinator for corporate outreach programs at Panasonic, said the finalists participate in a variety of activities, including seeing a Broadway play, eating out at restaurants, a city tour on a double decker bus and a visit to CityPlex Theater in Newark.

Arce won’t have to travel far for the event. “We’re proud to say that Newark is the home of Panasonic’s U.S. headquarters. So we just have to bring our luggage for the hotel. No airfare for us. But in my opinion, we get to host it, if you will,” Wolverton said.

The best video of the year will be announced May 9 at Panasonic headquarters at an award ceremony. Each finalist will receive a trophy for their accomplishment. The finalist chosen for the best video will represent the United States in the global portion of the competition.

In addition to the activities, Wolverton said that East Side High School will receive a banner for Arce’s accomplishment. “There’s a certain amount of gear that will be allotted to us as well,” he said.

The Panasonic Kid Witness News Program began at Theodore Roosevelt School in Weehawken in 1989. Worldwide, there are 622 schools participating in the program and 73 in the U.S. program.

“KWN is a hands-on, team-centered video education program that encourages students to seek new experiences and examine themselves in different roles,” explained Marilyn Joseph, vice president of community relations and corporate outreach programs for Panasonic. “Through the use of state-of-the-art, high definition video products and technology provided by Panasonic, KWN aims to inspire self-confidence, creativity and excitement in the learning process.”

Arce and East Side High School staff are excited that the PSA has gotten the recognition it has and Arce now has a one in four chance of representing the U.S. for the next phase of the competition. “It would be great to come home with this prize,” Wolverton said.