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In the midst of a $100 million renovation of the New Trier Winnetka campus, student leadership is asking peers to pay attention to the long-festering issue of student littering. But they are asking 21st century-style with multimedia campaign featuring a rap music video that is now going viral.
New Trier's Student Alliance, the student-elected cabinet of representatives whose role is to advocate on behalf of the student body to improve the school, identified the littering problem and developed a groundbreaking campaign to creatively reach and impact all constituents at the high school. Junior Jacob Shaw, Student Alliance Director of Policy, explained, "This is a different sort of project than we ordinarily undertake. Our usual focus is advocating on behalf of voiced student suggestions, everything from introducing a salad bar in the cafeteria to revising the extracurricular code. But the litter was an unspoken problem. To rally support, we could have written a letter to the editor in our school newspaper. We could have hung some banners with catchy slogans. We could have promoted a contest. But we decided to do that and more. And how better to kick off this full-scale campaign than with an engaging PSA video, featuring our peers, teachers, staff, and administration?" And this video is anything but trashy.
The music video uniquely merges Dateline-esque candid camera moments, insight from students, faculty, maintenance staff, and administration, and behind-the-scenes custodial footage all wrapped together with a clever parody of rap artist Flo Rida's hit "It's Going Down for Real" and cameo rap performances from students, teachers, and administration. The video launched Thursday, February 11 and went viral on YouTube within a week of its
release, with viewers from around the world.
"Our goal was to make the litter, not the litterers, the enemy here," explained Shaw, who also produced the PSA film. "We understood that a finger-wagging, negative message telling students to pick up after themselves wouldn't be effective. As a filmmaker and musician, I proposed video and song as the ideal conduit for our message. Rather than pit rebellious students against some angry, altruistic authority, 'Just Throw It Out - For Real' engages students, staff, faculty, and administration alike, literally in harmony-we're all in it together. We were fortunate to have Mr. Andy Horne, Kinetic Wellness teacher and resident rapper, write the lyrics and record the song for us. The real power and fun entered as teachers from Chemistry to English, staff from Health Services to Technology, students from Girls Club to Tri-Ship all wanted in. Even our Superintendent and Principal were eager to rap in the video."
"I love this campaign by Student Alliance," explains Superintendent Linda Yonke, "because it is coming from students to ask each other to consider the impact of what they're doing."
And this is not the usual ask.
Within days "Just Throw It Out - For Real" took New Trier by storm as the Student Alliance's Public Relations division extended the campaign by decking the halls with posters, flyers, and massive banners. Even television monitors around the campus glow with the message to just throw it out - for real. And the campaign has only just begun. The Student Alliance is continuing to develop other extensions of the cleanup message to round out the campaign and reach as many students as possible over the course of the next month. Students already have noticed the impact, with cleaner hallways and dining areas. Perhaps there will be a "We Threw It Out For Real" video in the near future.