David Scherker, an 11th grade student at Coral Reef High School, was one of three winners in a national anti-bullying video contest sponsored by the U.S. Government that received almost 900 submissions. Begun last fall, the competition’s results were announced on Feb. 1.
His video, It Starts With One, as one of two receiving honorable mention earned a $500 cash prize and will be featured on the <www.stopbullying. gov> website. Scherker made the video due to his own encounters with bullying and his hope to pursue a career in filmmaking.
“Well, two things motivated me,” Scherker said. “One was the fact that this contest provided me a chance to show a few of the different types of bullying that occur throughout school. Many think of mainly verbal or physical, but isolation is another extremely prominent form of bullying. Though I have rarely been physically bullied, I have had verbal abuse and isolation throughout middle school.
“Two, my dream for college is to go to California for film school — USC and UCLA being at the top. I saw this as an opportunity to build up a résumé, while also informing the United States of a simple way to stop bullying.”
Now 17, Scherker was 16 when he made the video. He put it together in less than a week, using 15 actors from the school’s Drama Magnet program.
“I planned and wrote Monday to Wednesday, worked with my TV Production teacher David Ernsberger, who was a cinematographer, on how to frame it to make editing as easy as possible on Thursday, and filmed it entirely in two hours on Friday, running around the school,” Scherker said. “I edited Friday and Saturday to turn it in Sunday.”
With only two hours to film and no chance for reshooting scenes, it was a challenge because of the time factor, but one he rose above with good planning and the help of the others participating.
“Fortunately, my drama teachers. Ana Mederos and Nicole Quintana. allowed me to film during the class that day, and all of the actors were very cooperative and worked very well, allowing me to finish filming in time,”
Scherker said. “Besides that, I just had to sit in front of the computer using Final Cut Express for several hours editing to get it done in time.” Scherker said that in high school, especially Coral Reef, people are more understanding and he has seen less bullying there, but that no school is completely without bullies. He hopes that his video and the concept behind it will enlighten the public on the different styles of bullying and show how simple it is to end it.
“Bullies feed off of the support from peers,” Scherker said. “Much of the time, bullies do mean things to be funny or to be liked by others, not with the sole intention of being mean. Even the times they are being funny can severely hurt people’s feelings. Cut off that peer support and bullies lose their power and often their motivation.”
Besides having been a victim himself, Scherker has seen others being bullied through isolation, verbal abuse, and even physical abuse and has taken a stand by befriending those who have been bullied. His goal is to inspire others to do the same and make a school a more pleasant environment for everyone.
“I hope that this video can be used as a tool to show that there are alternatives to bullying,” Scherker said. “Even if the video changes the perception of a handful of people, or even one person, my video was a success because it would have made someone’s life better.”
The judges of the competition were Deborah A. Temkin, PhD, of the U.S. Department of Education; Erin Reiney, MPH, CHES of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Stephanie Rapp, MSW, LCSW-C of the U.S. Department of Justice.
Scherker’s video can be seen online at www.stopbullying.challenge.gov/submissions/10738-it-starts-with-one