STANTON — Lights, camera, action!
That may be an outdated cliché from the Hollywood film industry, but its original intent to begin shooting a scene held true Tuesday as video production students at Central Montcalm High School pooled their videography and story-telling talents to produce an instructional training video for the Montcalm Area Intermediate School District.
Students from the school volunteered their time to partake in a mock emergency situation at the Central Montcalm Middle School parking lot, in which an irate parent attempts to climb aboard a school bus and harass the driver.
Many students filled the bus as “extras” to help make the situation more realistic and several students from the school’s video production class worked together to create a video that will be used to train every bus driver in all seven public school districts in Montcalm County.
For Junior Aaron Willmore, 16, the experience was new and exciting compared to working in a classroom studio setting.
“It’s been real smooth; it’s a fun experience,”Willmore said. “I’ve never done anything like this before, so it’s really cool.”
Instructor Kevin Wagenmaker stood aside as his students went to work, directing and filming the video scene by scene, with assistance from EightCAP Inc. and the Montcalm County Sheriff’s Office.
“It’s been a big experience,” Wagenmaker said. “We just have to get the different scenes and shots; it’s a process, but so far so good.”
Junior Nate Jones, 17, said he welcomed the task of helping to produce the video because of the importance of the project.
“We’re used to this kind of thing because we do run a news studio here, but it is definitely an honor to do this for the whole county,” Jones said. “Everything’s been going according to plan.”
According to MAISD Transportation Director Dee Evans, the video will be used during a training session on Nov. 1 at Central Montcalm High School and shown to all bus drivers to help them understand how to handle a situation involving an irate parent.
The drivers will them participate in a mock emergency training session in the parking lot, where the students will again be asked to record a second video to be used for future training sessions.
“It’s for the bus drivers, so they know what to be watching for as they approach a bus stop,” Evans said. “If they see something, such as an irate person, they will know whether or not they should stop.”
Evans said the training exercise is an effort by the department to be proactive, rather than reactive, citing a situation from February in Alabama in which a bus driver was shot and killed and a five-year-old student taken hostage in an underground bunker.
“It’s for the safety of all of our students and the public,” she said. “If we pull up to a scene and we have an irate parent, we don’t want them getting on the bus.”
On Tuesday, Montcalm County Emergency Services Director Dave Felpausch acted as the parent, banging on the bus doors and eventually entering the bus, screaming at the bus driver, played by EightCAP Transportation Director Kevin Harkness.
“It makes it more realistic for when we do the driver training, they will see true student reaction,” Harkness said. “The students are doing wonderful today.”
Evans said the school bus used Tuesday was provided by Tri County Area Schools because each bus within that school district possesses three cameras, with the footage from Tuesday to be used in the training video.
The training will be performed by former Greenville Department of Public Safety Sgt. Gary Valentine, who now works as a safety, security and training consultant with his business, School Com 608.
“The biggest thing facing bus drivers today is hostile parents and unruly students,” Valentine said. “These are things that bus drivers more than likely will see on a daily basis. You prepare for the worst and pray for the best.”
Central Montcalm High School Principal Anthony Petersen said he was proud to see his students take on such an important task in aiding the MAISD.
“They really enjoy the multimedia class and being involved in filming,” Petersen said. “We’re very proud of the program, where it’s come and what Mr. Wagenmaker has done with it. To have them film this and have it be used in a countywide event for training bus drivers is incredible. Having so many students who are willing to be a part of the training, it makes it more real world applicable for everybody.”