North Marion Middle School featured in Subaru commercial
Sharing a message of acceptance and love, North Marion Middle School is featured in a one-minute Subaru commercial that has started airing on TLC and Discovery channels internationally.
The school's inclusion in the ad was one of chance: A producer for Discovery, Inc. reached out to a high school friend, a North Marion teacher, stating they were looking for a middle school location for filming a commercial as part of the "Give a Little TLC" and Subaru Love Promise campaigns.
Vice Principal Tami Badinger jumped at the opportunity.
"The commercial was to feature our anti-bullying lessons juxtaposed with Subaru's message of acceptance of all regardless of race, gender or sexual preference," Badinger explained. "This is my 31st year in education and it's one of the coolest experiences in my life. I had never seen a big production filmed in my life."
Humanities teacher Peggy Boorman and special education teacher Justin Jacobs, who are also Subaru drivers, were selected to be featured in the commercial, for which they were interviewed, were filmed in the parking lot with their vehicles and led a lesson on acceptance to a class of seventh-graders. The commercial's message, which touches on the tragedy of a student who took his own life a few years ago, is to care about others even if they're different from you.
"They (the teachers) were here for 10 hours for a one-minute commercial," Badinger said. "I got to go in (during an interview) and I just started crying. I was so proud of them and the opportunity was very emotional and overwhelming. I'm proud of who they represented, the fact that they're able to take on bullying."
The undertaking featured a crew of more than 40 people that flew in from the East Coast and set up in the middle school's back parking lot in early May. They also utilized a conference room for catering, makeup and wardrobe.
Not only did they film on site, but Subaru gave $3,000 to the school and a stipend to the two teachers involved. They also got their Subarus detailed for the commercial.
Additionally, the crew held an assembly for the school's 500 students to show them how a commercial is made.
"I knew not every student could participate, but one thing that was very important to me was that all students at North Marion Middle School would be able to experience this event in some way," Badinger said. "So I asked them, would you be willing to start your day with a pep assembly for all of our students showing them the cameras, showing them how you film and what you film? They agreed and the kids were just blown away and so excited."
The process struck a chord with students, whose enthusiasm helped make a broadcasting class possible next year; equipment for the class will be paid for through the gifted $3,000.
While the excitement of having a big-time camera crew at the school was impressionable enough, Badinger said she hopes the lessons emphasized in the commercial also continue to resonate with students, especially as statistics continue to show a rise in suicides across the state, particularly with those questioning their sexual identities.
"We know the LGBTQ community has one of highest suicide rates, so (it's so important) to be able to pass that message on, that it doesn't matter who you're bullying, it's not right. We're all the same, we're all individuals," Badinger said.
The lesson depicted in the one-minute commercial was one in which Boorman and Jacobs instructed students to write on a sticky note any insults they had personally encountered, such as "you're fat" or "you're ugly." The sticky notes were posted on the whiteboard and were read aloud by the teachers. Students, who had each been given a paper heart, were instructed to crumple their paper hearts each time a statement was read aloud that they had experienced.
"Then at the end they unfolded the hearts; the point was that the damage is long-term, it doesn't go away," Badinger said.
The school is also taking other preventative measures to address bullying, including implementing a no-cellphone policy during school hours starting this fall. The less time on a phone a student has, the less chance they have to cyberbully.
Additionally, the school district as a whole is implementing a curriculum next year called Social Emotional Learning, or SEL, through which students are taught to speak to each other respectfully and to relax through stretching and breathing exercises.
"We know kids cannot learn unless they feel emotionally safe, so we have to make sure that occurs by integrating some things into our curriculum," Badinger said. "We're sure it's going to make a difference. Nationally, SEL is finding test scores go up, and (disciplinary) referrals go down. ... I'm just so proud of the school district because we're on the cutting edge and it's being noticed."
Check out the commercial at www.ispot.tv/ad/dINN/subaru-tlc-channel-bullying.