By Beth Volpert-Johansen
Stop the Drop is an initiative created by Georgia Public Broadcasting that is dedicated to preventing high school dropouts. Currently, Georgia’s graduation rate is less than 70 percent, well below the national average.
GPB’s initiative aims to decrease the dropout rate by raising awareness and supporting students throughout the state of Georgia. (GPB). Part of the program involves sponsoring an annual video contest for students statewide. The 2013 and 2014 first place winner was Sean Tackett who used his training in video production that he learned “along the way” and in classes at school to produce the award winning Public Service Announcements. “The first time I saw the poster for the contest, I thought it was a really cool topic,” says Sean. “It definitely needed to be addressed in Georgia.”
Sean, a senior at Lambert High School, and an assistant at his family’s hair salon, Face Salon in Suwanee, has developed his own ideas about what keeps a kid engaged in school. Among his friends, he finds other creative minds that often join talents to produce a variety of videos. “I’m their go-to filmer,” says Sean. “When I need a writer or director, they are there.” He also goes to his friends for original music tracks for many of PSA videos. One friend, Griffin Trinkwon, starred in this year’s award for Stop the Drop. His face is not shown in the video which indicates that a dropout can be anyone. “I had the idea for a kid with no face because dropouts have many different faces,” says Sean.
Sean says students have to stay involved in school in order to be compelled to finish. He recommends that all students get involved in some activity so they can be a part of something and not alone. “Alone in high school is not good,” says Sean. “I would definitely recommend that students get involved in a sport or other activity; it's the best way to meet new people”
Mandy Wilson, Communications Manager at GPB, says, “GPB has a strong educational mission demonstrated by the programming that we air and the various resources that we provide for students and educators across the state” She goes on to explain that the “Stop the Drop” campaign is an important initiative launched by GPB in order to encourage high school students to stay in school. “Supporting an annual video contest is another way to help students exercise their creativity and develop real-world skills,” says Mandy. “More importantly, it assures that students are talking about the importance of staying in school with their peers.”
While Sean’s first year effort was self-described as a “bit rushed” since he only learned of the contest shortly before the deadline, he was more prepared for the 2014 entry. “I had a few months to think of my idea and make it a reality,” says Sean. “This year I did lots of research and wrote six or seven different scripts that I planned and almost shot.”
Sean used a CanonⓇ 60D to shoot the scenes and edited with Adobe Premiere ProⓇ.
Currently, the young videographer is filming a car commercial with his brother, Zane, as director. “We work side-by-side,” says Sean. “He usually directs and I film.”
Beyond current projects, Sean is looking at either Berry College or University of Georgia. Berry offers a degree in Visual Communication and UGA has a major in Mass Media Arts. Sean intends for film to be his work throughout his life and sees a great deal of potential in the growing industry in Georgia. “I want to stay here in Georgia,” says Sean. “The film industry is getting pretty big and I want to be a part of it.”