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Fleetwood High School’s documentary film on a Holocaust survivor is officially an award winning film.
Misa’s Fugue is a feature-length documentary film that details the story of Holocaust survivor Frank “Misa” Grunwald.
Pennsylvania School Press Association President Robert Hankes presented Fleetwood’s film with “The Rachael S. Turner Award - For Innovative Excellence in Student Journalism 2012” during the annual PSPA Conference kickoff dinner recently.
“It was nice to know that an organization like the PSPA recognized the work that went into the film and the effort that the faculty and students here at Fleetwood Area High School put into it,” said Fleetwood High School communications and media teacher Sean Gaston, film director.
This is the first award for Misa’s Fugue. “The Rachael S. Turner Award - For Innovative Excellence in Student Journalism” is the highest award that the PSPA offers, said Gaston.
“It’s also an award that hasn’t been given out by the organization for 15 years,” he said.
Rachael Turner started PSPA in 1925. Gaston said that the current president of PSPA, Hankes, has an old newspaper article about the start of PSPA and it states, “The PSPA traces its origin to an idea in the mind of Miss Turner which through her tireless efforts became a reality in December 1925.”
Hankes wrote to Gaston that he asked the board to bestow this honor on Fleetwood Area High School for “their tireless effort, chronicling history, and inventing something that has never been seen before... Misa’s Fugue is a student journalism creation impossible to equal or surpass.”
The process to create the film took exactly 22 months.
“I met Frank in late June 2010 and we premiered the film at the Miller Center in Reading, April 16, 2012,” said Gaston.
Gaston said that over the course of the two years that it took to produce Misa’s Fugue, there were 10 faculty members, that spanned six different departments in the high school including the communications, social studies, English, art, music, and technology education departments. In addition there were 200 current and former students between 2010-2012 that participated in the production.
A small group of four independent filmmaking professionals helped out in various ways along the way.
Gaston directed the film and also produced the film with Jennifer Goss, then a social studies teacher at the high school. He also wrote the film with both Goss and Zachary Houp, an English teacher at the high school.
“This award provides validation from an independent source of the quality and innovative nature of this inter-disciplinary project,” said Fleetwood Superintendent Paul Eaken. “We believed that this film was unique and of high quality; this award confirms that belief.”
Eaken said the film itself stands as a testament to the quality of Fleetwood’s teachers and students.
“It also concretely demonstrates how teachers can work together across departments to develop a project that brought much more meaning to students’ study of the holocaust,” said Eaken.
“I encourage our teachers to continue their innovative practices that incorporate instruction and students’ skills from many different areas to make instruction more meaningful,” said Eaken.