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Video helps save vandalized playground

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A clever and eye-catching YouTube video produced by Wilson Central High School students is getting quite the social buzz, with hopes to raise funds to repair their Teacher Learning Center playground vandalized during fall break.

The enterprising and talented students recently produced and posted the video that slightly spoofs (in a respectful way) those heart-wrenching, dramatic ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) commercials, complete with poignant music, a moderator who sounds exactly like Morgan Freeman, slow shots of the sad playground and equally sad children who look longingly through a fence at their former play space. You've got to see it to get the full impact. Words can't really describe.

It's gotten thousands of views and those who are mesmerized with the video come away with, "I don't know whether to laugh or cry!"

The dramatic portrayal of the pitiful playground used by young children of teachers and administrators in the daycare program was intentional - and getting exactly the buzz the students wanted.

Wilson Central guidance secretary Rachel Brooks said about 60 children use the TLC, ages 6 weeks to 5 years.

"The playground was vandalized over fall break," she explained. "Not necessarily in a horrible way, but the fence was broken into and the equipment was used by people over the weight limit and things like that."

Brooks said this story's main focus is not the vandalism, but the fact the playground was in sad shape even before and needed attention. The vandalism just brought the playground to light, so to speak, she said.

"It's been in dire need of repair anyway," she said. "There are great kids who use it here, the children of our educators."

She explained the youngsters are called, "Little Wildcats," and will be future Wilson Central Wildcats and deserve a nice place to play, especially since it's warm outside now.

"Before, the playground was sort of out of sight, out of mind during the winter months," she noted.

In an effort to get something done, Brooks went straight to Deana Duncan, who teaches students in the Audio Visual Production class.

"We all brainstormed and Deana was right on board," she said. "It shows what a family we are here."

And, the school "family" has a great track record; this latest effort comes on the heels of raising thousands of dollars for victims of the recent fires in Gatlinburg. At that time they conducted a "$2,000 in 2" event, whereby the goal was to raise $2,000 in scattered buckets in just two minutes. Students quickly raided their pockets and donated loose change and small bills. Nearly all of the 1,874 students participated. They raised the $2,000, and more. One hundred and twenty students hand delivered the money to those in need in Gatlinburg.

In conjunction with the release of the clever video that showcases sweet, but sad, little ones expressing how they miss their playground, the school will have another "$2,000 in 2" during first block on April 11.

Senior student Lauren Meadows is pumped about the few fundraising days planned for the playground. She helped produce the YouTube video.

"We brainstormed and shot some B-rolls of the playground," she said. "We decided it needed more and we wanted some of the kids in the video. They are so cute. And, yes, we wanted the video to be a play off ASCAP's, they get your attention. They are dramatic, but a little funny too I guess. We wanted to grab attention."

The deep mesmerizing voice of the narrator is student Guy Pennell's. It's a cross between Samuel L. Jackson and Morgan Freeman's. And, the writing is clever. Pennell's dramatic pauses are spot on. You have to watch the video to get the true scope of the plea.

"We realize we are a public school system and funds are always tight," said Duncan. "But, this is a super school and a very willing community. We've seen it!"

Also planned for that week is a Change Drive where jars labeled with the principals' and some faculty members' names and faces will be placed about and the one with the most money donated will get a pie in the face on April 10, hand delivered by some TLC kids.

On April 12 there will be a dress down day, had for $1 donation, with money toward the playground.

They hope the cash will flow for the little ones and there will be a work day to fix up the playground with new supplies on April 29 when students and faculty will come together for the tykes.

They hope to get a new fence to replace the one destroyed, some mulch and equipment if possible.

"The little kids are so excited about the possibility," Duncan said. "They are looking forward to being our future big Wildcats."

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