Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - June 8, 2007
Both husband Art and I have a propensity to record large and small moments in our families' lives. My favorite medium is photography, although Art, who has been our official videographer through the years, has given me tips on the art of filming subjects. My photos end up in albums, which I peruse from time to time, but the videos end up in drawers, rarely, if ever, to be seen again.
That is, until the last couple of years. We decided we should start putting together video stories from the hours of tapes we've collected.
Our first big project was my fall 2004 trip to Washington, D.C. with Uncle Stan and Aunt Kay. Stan served in World War II, and he wanted to see the new memorial dedicated to those who served in that war. I had been to our nation's capital before, but that was the first trip with a video camera.
It was fun wandering around with Stan and Kay to see the Lincoln, Washington and Jefferson monuments and the memorials to those who served in Korea and Vietnam. But it was especially moving to see the World War II Memorial with them and to listen to Stan's stories about serving in the South Pacific. After I got home, I put together a story and included black and white photos from his service years.
Subsequent projects included video stories about Uncle Bob's 90th birthday celebration, which took a year to complete, and Art's Mom's 95th birthday.
But the latest project was by far the most extensive. Youngest daughter Katie and some of her eighth grade classmates decided it would be fun to do a DVD as a kind of farewell to their grade school days. Art's job was to keep the project moving along and to help with editing.
The eighth graders videotaped classmates, teachers, staff and classrooms and borrowed coaches' tapes of sporting events.
The DVD told the story of both typical days and exceptional ones in the lives of the students. It touched on getting ready for school in the morning, buses picking kids up and arriving at school, classroom activities, the hallway scramble between classes, the chaos at lunch time and the buses leaving at the end of the day. It also included extra-curricular activities such as sports, chorus and band. And special events - such as their kindergarten graduation, their third grade Underground Railroad tour, their sixth grade fossil-hunting trip and a Christmas program - were each reduced to one-minute clips.
A big chunk of the DVD included advice from the students' middle school teachers, principal and counselor. The students asked several questions of the adults.
When asked what color they associated with this year's eighth grade class, answers included yellow, because of the students' bright and cheerful attitudes; rainbow, because they blend so well together; blue, which reminded the teacher of the sky and endless possibilities; Columbia blue, for the students' loyalty to Riley County; red, for their fiery, energetic personalities; fuchsia, because they are vibrant, fun and lively; orange, for their flamboyance; and olive drab, because they seem to be even-keeled and get things done.
When asked what song reminded them of the class, the adults' selections included "We've Only Just Begun," "We Are the World," "Don't Worry, Be Happy," "Hey, Hey, We're the Monkees," "I Hope You Dance," "Friends Forever" and "Everybody's Free."
When asked what they'd do if they were stuck on a deserted island with the eighth graders, quick answers included "Help!" "Run!" and "Oh, man!" Then they became more serious and said they knew they could count on the class to know what to do to survive.
The DVD ended with baby and current photos of each student plus a few photos of their classmate Logan, who died in a traffic accident when they were fourth graders.
My contribution was to provide some of the field trip and program videos and to chime in occasionally with editing and music suggestions. I knew the project would take a lot of time, but I had no idea how long it would take to reduce hours of videos to brief clips and to weave them together into a coherent story. But the resulting DVD, dubbed "Falcon Daze," is a pretty good representation of the grade school lives of our 2007 eighth graders.
Once her work was done, Katie said the most frustrating part for her was to get her classmates to cooperate when she and her friends were taping them, and the most satisfying part was to see it all come together.
Her first school day after she had finished the DVD, she came home and said that several of her classmates had remarked how much cheerier she seemed. She said it was because she had acquired some much-needed rest. Her friends said they thought it was because she had finished the video.
So maybe it wasn't just Katie who was happy the work was done.