Benton Harbor Student Video Strives to Change Perception of Their Community

Anybody who has ever battled a negative stereotype or tried to change people's perceptions when they simply don't have all the facts knows what an uphill battle that can be. Nevertheless, a hearty cadre of students in the Benton Harbor Area Schools have taken to video to do just that -- counter the negativity, and encourage fellow students and the community-at-large to "Get Up" and share the message.

With the students of Benton Harbor Area Schools having seen and heard all of the negativity about their district for far too long, they essentially decided that enough is enough and elected to do something about it. The students were motivated to change the perceptions themselves and with the help of their mentor Traci Burton, they sprang to action.

Ms. Burton is a former creative arts and gifted and talented student herself, and she worked with the Benton Harbor High School students through an after school class, “Lyricism 101”, at the Boys and Girls Clubs Teen Center to write and produce the powerful new video. Funding for the project was provided by the Benton Harbor Education Foundation.

The striking new video, “Get Up” takes the perspective that negativity around Benton Harbor Area Schools isn’t a true representation of the district, and the students vocally express the transition in a song they adapted from current teacher Michelle Brooks. The song was originally written as a gospel ballad and the students transformed it into a modern, hip hop-rap track that will resonate with today’s youth.

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Traci Burton says, “My exposure to the arts in both Benton Harbor Area Schools and the Boys and Girls Clubs inspired me to come back and create a program that allows students to express themselves through visual arts, videography and musical composing. I received the gift of an arts education, and I am so proud to be able to pass it on to the students of Benton Harbor Area Schools.”

The professional grade video was produced by professional videographer Jeremiah Griffin. Griffin, owner of RTG Media, worked with the students on directing, producing and filming the video. Benton Harbor native, Will Garret produced the song instrumental and showed the students essential studio skills. The truly collaborative effort was further assisted by Raw Legacy Customs, Moorehouse Grill, Michelle Brooks and Candice Walker.

Benton Harbor Area Sschools and Traci Burton are thanking everyone who helped create the special project. From school staff to Benton Harbor Education Foundation staff, and the Boys and Girls Club staff, Burton says, "Your assistance was so valued and appreciated." help curtail the negativity and wrong impressions, you are encouraged to view the video for yourself and then share the link so that people far and wide can get the student point of view regarding their own personal brand of Tiger Pride in a community that is far too often cast aside.

Here's the link:

The photo accompanying this story on Moody on the Market, a screen shot from "Get Up," is courtesy of the RTG video team.