Estacado principal inspires students with 'Empathy' video - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Estacado principal inspires students with 'Empathy' video

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Video still from "Under the Surface" by Austin Wideman Video still from "Under the Surface" by Austin Wideman

"Do we really treat others, do we truly treat others the way we want to be treated?"

A bold challenge to Estacado High School students by their principal Dr. Samuel Ayers.

"The idea for the video came from a friend at UMC," Ayers said. "I thought, that would be really powerful for a hospital but we really need that for our faculty and even our students."

And the message behind The Empathy Video was born.

Dr. Ayers used real struggles of high school students to carry the message that every student and faculty member deals with different types of challenges.

"No matter what school setting you're in, no matter the socio-economic status, you never know what people are dealing with," Ayers said.

Students with the theatre department are actors in the short video, each playing a student struggling with different situations at home, at school or in their personal lives.

But the video also shows the struggles of teachers and other staff members.

"Obviously, we protected the identity of those students but these are issues that have really happened here and really happen in other schools, too."

For some of the students, the meaning of the video really struck a chord.

Nikki Rodriguez is a junior. In the video plays she a student being threatened over text by another classmate.

"I related to that, because I had been through that at one time," Rodriguez said.

Seniors Joseph Rios and Keyanna Walton also played roles in the video.

Rios played a student struggling financially and trying to hide having no clothes to wear to school, and Walton, playing a student whose mother is sick and has to care for herself.

"I have friends who have lost a parent this year, lost a mother their senior year," Walton said. "I understand that it's tough for them and some people may not know just by looking at them so I feel that it was an honor for me to get to be their voice."

Rios says when he was approached by Dr. Ayers about the video , he was eager to be involved.

"It just pretty much about how everyone is hiding something, pretty much," Rios said.

When the idea of the video was announced, Ayers said that his expectation was to show just the faculty.

But the story of the kids spread much further than that.

"Every student saw it at the end of [fourth period] on their smart board. They were quiet, they were taking it in, they were processing it, they were reflecting. And many of them wanted time to discuss it afterwards."

Overall, Ayers said he is pleased with the outcome of the video.

"It has done just what we wanted it to."

VIDEO: Under the Surface, by Austin Wideman

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