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Students’ film wins money for dry grad

Semiahmoo Secondary students Natasha Peters, Sherry Rashidan, Kaleigh Pousett won $4,000 for dry grad by winning a BCAA-sponsored filmmaking contest. - Doug Shanks photo
Semiahmoo Secondary students Natasha Peters, Sherry Rashidan, Kaleigh Pousett won $4,000 for dry grad by winning a BCAA-sponsored filmmaking contest.
— image credit: Doug Shanks photo

Semiahmoo Secondary has won $4,000 for this year’s dry grad celebration thanks to the creative prowess of three of its own.

Aspiring filmmaker Sherry Rashidan and fellow Grade 12s Kaleigh Pousett and Natasha Peters won first place in the BCAA Dry Grad Video Challenge for a three-minute film warning against drinking and driving.

“When I first entered, I had no expectation of even getting in the top five. I did it just because I wanted to make videos,” Rashidan said. “We didn’t even know what the prizes were... we just wanted to do it for fun.”

Rashidan – who has been interested in film from an early age – said she heard about the contest on the radio, and immediately asked if her friends would take part.

“I’m generally very passionate about filmmaking, and make films with my friends all the time, so I thought I’d give it a try,” she said. “Every single time we hang out, we bring out the camera and randomly start filming. The camera is permanently glued to my hand.”

The contest was open to Grade 12s in B.C. and the Yukon, and challenged students to share a video message against impaired driving.

Rashidan said it wasn’t difficult to conceive her film’s plot, which follows a teenaged girl who casually drinks with two friends before driving off in a van and hitting a child on the side of the road. The main character looks at what she has done, then pulls out a remote control from her pocket and rewinds the situation back to when she was first offered a drink.

‘Some things you can’t rewind; make the smart decision, don’t drink and drive’ flashes across the screen at the end.

“This entire scenario went through my head when I heard (the contest) on the radio,” said Rashidan, who wrote, directed and acted in the video.

The project – including filming and editing – took a few weeks to complete before being submitted at the end of November.

About a week later, the three friends were informed their film had been chosen from 50 submissions for the top five.

The public was invited to choose their favourite on Facebook in the beginning of December, with the Semi trio raking in the most votes.

Mission’s Heritage Park Secondary took second place and $2,000 in prize money, while Burnaby’s St. Thomas More Collegiate won third place and $1,000.

Semiahmoo principal Bea Hadikin said she was proud not just of the video’s success, but the strength of its script.

“It’s a compelling story and I think it’s a good message for young people,” Hadikin said.

Rashidan said her peers showed support by mobilizing behind the project.

“We noticed that it really brought our Grade 12 class together. We all really teamed up and worked together to collect votes, so that was really, really nice to see, that not only did we manage to raise awareness and money for our school, we also got to see our school be like a family,” she said, noting the impaired driving message is being spread at a critical time, with graduation just around the corner. “It’s definitely a subject a lot of people feel strongly about. More awareness about it should be raised, especially for Grade 12s when it comes to the end of the year and grad.”

This June will be the 21st year Semiahmoo has hosted dry grad, which about 90 per cent of grads attend, Hadikin said.

“It’s not a one-off, it has solid support, parents really like it, students participate... it’s just a really wonderful way to end the magical night of your dinner-dance for grad.”

Hadikin said the money won by the Semi filmmakers will go towards the approximately $30,000 cost of hosting dry grad, and may also be used to start a legacy of some kind for future graduating classes.

To view the winning videos, visit www.bcaa.com/drygrad

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