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Published April 12 2010

K-12 Notebook: Breckenridge students fight teen suicide with video

Countless brainstorming sessions and editing three hours of footage down to six minutes paid off for a team from Breckenridge (Minn.) High School.

The students beat a slew of competitors from across the state to win the Minnesota Suicide Prevention Student Video Competition. Their video will be shown at schools across Minnesota as part of an awareness campaign by the nonprofit Suicide Awareness Voices of Education and the Minnesota Department of Health.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among youths in the state.

“The students were on Cloud 9,” said English teacher Kristie Sullivan. “They couldn’t believe they’d won this statewide competition.”

Sullivan says her 10-student team, from a small high school with no fancy equipment on hand, seemed to face daunting odds. The filmmakers used Sullivan’s own hand-held camera and the computer of a student’s confirmation teacher to edit the footage.

But what they lacked in technology the students made up in dedication. They spent hours researching the topic and brainstorming ideas for the piece, which tells of a bright, popular student athlete who falls apart after her parent’s divorce.

She is considering suicide when her friends rally around her and coax her upbeat self back with a barrage of caring gestures.

The project held special meaning to the students because one of the members of the production team recently lost a brother to suicide.

Sullivan says the students wanted to highlight the strong tie between alcohol and drug abuse and teen suicide. Most importantly, “We wanted to get across that this can be prevented,” she said. “You need to be there for your friends.”

The students are donating the $750 cash prize to the Lake Region Mental Health Center in Fergus Falls, Minn.

You can see their winning video by visiting www.save.org and clicking on "Minnesota Student Video Competition" at the bottom of the page.

At a school-wide screening last month, says Sullivan, the student who lost his brother to suicide had prepared a talk. But when he faced his schoolmates, he said simply, “I’ve been through this, and it sucks, so I don’t want anybody else to go through it.”

NIPA awards

West Fargo High School recently took home first place for its yearbook for the ninth consecutive year as well as several individual first-place awards at the Northern Interscholastic Press Association’s annual contest.

Fargo South High School took third place for overall newspaper in the Division I category while Central Cass took home second place for overall newspaper in the Division II category.

For more on the individual winners, go to www.und-nipa.com.

Scholastic book fair

New York Mills (Minn.) Elementary is hosting a Scholastic Book Fair.

The event takes place from 11:15 a.m. to 12:20 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday in the Elementary Media Center. Parents are welcome.

The fair will also be at the New York Mills Trade Show Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

All proceeds will go to the Elementary Media Center to purchase more books for the library. For more information, contact Nancy Schik at (218) 385-2553, ext. 413.

Readers can reach Forum reporters Kelly Smith at (701) 241-5515 and

Mila Koumpilova at (701) 241-5524