Inspirational assemblies from Christian nonprofits just don't work
A splash of color, lights and thumping music from big names like Green Day, The Offspring, 2pac and more accompanies reformed druggies, troubled teens and valiant football players who come to practice through injury who exhort "Be the change," "Don't drink, smoke or do drugs," and "Be a good citizen," on three side-by-side screens in the auditorium at Blair. In this inspirational video entitled, "Be the change," students were encouraged to take a more active role in bettering their community. While this inspirational video presented to the junior and senior classes in assemblies during first and third periods respectively on Tues., Oct. 25, was surely flashy and exciting, it had no real impact on the students and wasted valuable class time.
CAMFEL is the religious nonprofit organization that makes these videos and then sends technicians to schools and churches around the country to set up the presentations. CAMFEL; Pepsi, who paid for these videos to come to Blair and the organizers of the video presentations from the administration here at Blair were no doubt well-intentioned when they presented these videos to Blazers. However, the videos are just too over-the-top and too out of context to have any legitimate point.
Undoubtedly, the CAMFEL videos are loud, exciting, and full of color. Assistant Principal Linda Wanner, who introduced the video to the senior class, lauds the videos exciting nature as their most salient point. However, for the students, combining psychedelic swirls of color with pop music and a message of citizenship just doesn't work.
The CAMFEL website lists numerous materials that can be used as discussion aids to further enhance students' experiences with the videos. Blair did not get any of these, and without them, discussion of the videos consisted merely of students laughing at them afterwards in the halls. While the Blair administration may not have wanted to use up more valuable instructional time on these videos, airing them without further expansion on the themes presented causes them to completely fail in delivering their message to students.
Furthermore, the ownership of the CAMFEL Company may be of concern to some Blazers. Earlier this year, MCPS mandated that graduation for the class of 2006 be moved from Jericho City of Praise because parents complained about the religious affiliation of the graduation site shortly before graduation last year, according to a Silver Chips Online article. Those same parents might be displeased to find that CAMFEL is a Christian non-profit group and that they produce evangelical versions of the inspirational videos. Furthermore, the CAMFEL website describes the work of the video technicians as "mission" work, something many people closely associate with proselytizing attempts.
Wanner feels that the religious background of the group does not matter. "There's nothing Christian in the message, it's good citizenship, and I think it's a good message," Wanner said. While no overt religious message was in the videos, the origins of the video seem to violate previously established MCPS policy, which will not allow Blair to hold its graduation in the most economical space because of religious concerns.
The videos' ineffectiveness and questionable origins make them far more trouble than they were worth and showing them to Blair students just wasn't worth their time.
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