<b>Taking a stand against bullying</>From left: Principal Jeff St. Onge. Shannon Kotylak of SaskEnergy and Grade 10 student McKayla Crouse pose for a photo during the McNaughton High School year-end assembly. Crouse submitted a video to SaskEnergy's Pink Shirt Film Festival which depicted the consequences of bullying. Crouse won $500 for her school.

Student wins Pink Shirt Film Fest prize

June 3, 2013 9:04 am
Kristen McEwen

When the guest speaker stood up in front of the student body in the gymnasium to make a special announcement, McKayla Crouse had no idea she had won $500 for McNaughton High School.

Her video submission to the SaskEnergy Pink Shirt Film Festival won the Critic's Choice award for High School. The film festival encourages students from schools across Saskatchewan to submit videos which speak out against bullying.

"I felt that was really awesome, I really didn't expect to win but it was a really nice prize," Crouse said. "It's good that lots of people are going to see my video."

During the assembly, Crouse's video was projected onto the big screen for everyone to see.

After hearing about the contest from her teacher, Crouse and two of her friends, Grade 10 student Laura Kindlein and Grade 11 student Naomi Loyola, put the video together.

"Naomi came up with the idea of drawing them so I thought would be a neat way," Crouse said. "I didn't want to do just drawings, though, so if we had a little skit with it that would be good so it all just sort of came together in the end."

In the short film, scenes are set up through drawings on a whiteboard and then shown how they play out in real life.

The somber ending depicting the very real consequences of bullying was what caught the attention of judges when they were choosing a winner for the category.

"For one just the emotional side - at the end (of the film) it was such a strong message about the fact that there are so many kids that commit suicide," said SaskEnergy community involvement leader Shannon Kotylak who presented the award.

"And it's sometimes people think that bullying is a part of growing up," she added. "What we're trying to show is that, no it isn't a part of growing up and sometimes the kids that are bullied won't grow up."

Crouse said she knows bullying happens at her school.

"In our school, there's a lot of bullying and stuff, so I thought it would be good to get the message out about it."

Crouse's video was selected from a number of entries from across the province. There are three other categories in the film festival. The Critic's Choice Award for Elementary School went to Drake Elementary School, People's Choice Award went to Ecole St. Mary in Regina and the Greatest Community Impact award went to Carlton Comprehensive High School in Prince Albert.

Vice principal Kim Munroe said how the prize money will be used will be determined by a committee of students and teachers. She said the money will most likely be used to purchase new video equipment or even donate it to the Red Cross.

Crouse's video will be available to view online at youtube.com/pinkshirtfilmfest.

The annual film festival is in association with the Red Cross Day of Pink.

The Red Cross Day of Pink began in 2007 when two high school seniors from Cambridge Nova Scotia heard that a Grade 9 student was bullied for wearing a pink polo shirt on his first day of school. Trevor Price and David Shepherd decided to buy pink shirts and encouraged the rest of the high school to wear them the next day.

The action of wearing the pink shirts to prevent bullying caught on, even catching the attention of Ellen DeGeneres who spoke about it on her show.

The next Red Cross Day of Pink will be held on April 9, 2014.