Staff, students and parents at Ennis Community College and Gaelcholáiste an Chláir have come together for a unique project to mark Safer Internet Day on February 5th.
They have written and recorded a song, and produced a music video to help spread awareness of the importance of safe use of the internet and mobile devices.
The song is called Satellite and was written by teacher Brendan Carragher based on an idea of the school’s Home School Community Liaison teacher, Ramona McCarthy, who coordinates the school’s activities for Safer Internet Day. Check out the video below!
Safer Internet Day is a European initiative which is supported by a number of official bodies in Ireland. Ms McCarthy has promoted it at Ennis Community College for several years, and wanted to do something different this year.
“As I've been involved with creating videos with students before, I got the idea of producing our own music video to tie in with the Safer Internet Day theme 'Working together for a safer internet'”
With a diverse range of creative skills required, she thought the project would provide a perfect opportunity for collaboration among staff, students and parents at the college. Parents play a key role in helping their children to learn how to develop healthy habits when it comes to internet and device use, and cooperation with home and school is a key factor in overcoming bullying, both online and offline.
Ms McCarthy recruited Gaelcholáiste transition year students Robyn Doyle and Fionn Murphy as Safer Internet Day Ambassadors, and they received training at Google’s headquarters in Dublin, organised by Webwise.ie. For the project, Fionn recorded and edited the video and Robyn helped with the audio, the teaching and learning documents and PR.
The schools’ music teachers helped to recruit musical talent across both the Gaelcholáiste and the Community College, and local singer Dovile Lee, who is currently studying a Post Leaving Cert Course at the school, came on board as one of the singers.
The song is a duet, in which the singers portray a concerned mother and her daughter who is faced with cyberbullying. Ms Lee plays the part of the mother, and the daughter is played by student Kayleigh Garvey. Anita O'Shaughnessy, Ríona Feirtéar and Ciarán Ó Catháin also play leading roles in the video.
French teacher Brendan Carragher wrote the song, based on an outline provided by Ms McCarthy.
“She gave me an outline of a mother-daughter relationship that had gone sour because of social media addiction. I thought it was a great idea. I was immediately interested and said yes. That evening driving home I got an idea for a melody and when I got home I sketched out some lyrics based around family members being cut adrift from each other because of over-reliance on technology, and the music and lyrics came together fairly quickly”.
Next came the band, coordinated by the music teachers Eimear Glancy and Anne Cullen, featuring some of their students, with business teacher and fiddle player Vincent McMahon.
Arrangement and production was a team effort, says Mr Carragher.
“The best part was putting the song together during a two week period before Christmas. It was one of the most enjoyable and rewarding experiences I've had as a teacher. So many talented, creative people were involved”.
The two student ambassadors had professional help. Local sound and recording engineer Matt Purcell recorded the song with help from Robyn Doyle. And videographer Paul Corey provided aerial drone footage and helped Fionn Murphy with the video, which was then edited by Fionn and Ms McCarthy.
For the students, it was a uniquely rewarding experience.
“I really enjoyed working as an Internet Safety Ambassador”, said Robyn Doyle. “Internet safety is a topic that is widely overlooked, but it is very important.”
The song and the video work together to tell a story, Ms McCarthy explains.
“The lyrics on their own don't tell the whole story, but the acting brings it all together. It’s about the dangers of using devices - lack of sleep, disconnection with family and friends, cyberbullying - and a positive message about supporting each other and working together to step back from technology a little more, and engage with each other in the real world”.
She expressed thanks in particular for the generosity of a parent who wishes to remain anonymous, but who paid for the professional audio recording which made a huge impact to the quality of the production.
College Principal Brian O’Donoghue praised the efforts of all involved.
“It’s a great example of teamwork across the community. No one person could have done this on their own, but staff, students and parents all brought their talent and insight to bear on the project. Not only does the music video convey a message, but the story of how it was put together provides a model of cooperation to address societal issues like bullying and internet safety.”
‘Satellite’, the video, is available to view on HERE!