by Haley Link
Center for Communications senior Tony Lofton won the “Not4Me” contest sponsored by CBS 6 and Loveland Distributing.
For the contest, over 75 area students produced public service announcements to discourage underage drinking of alcohol. Tony’s senior classmates Lori Ricks and Hannah Spain were also among the five contest finalists.
Tony learned that he was the winner when he appeared on “Virginia This Morning” on CBS 6 with his parents Anthony and Seneca Lofton and advanced communications and English teacher Lindsey Martin.
Tony said that having his parents present to share his recognition made it even sweeter.
“I felt overjoyed, accomplished and just thankful to be the winner,” Tony said.
Tony received $1,500 and saw his PSA broadcast during the Grammys. His PSA showed teenagers of different races, sexes, ethnicities and religions choosing to abstain from underage drinking.
Mrs. Martin’s class has participated in the contest for the past four years because she said it is a valuable learning experience.
“I choose to do the PSAs because it is an excellent way for the students to learn what a public service announcement is and how to write an effective and persuasive public service announcement,” Mrs. Martin said. “I think they were all really good, so I’m not surprised we had finalists, but I am surprised we had three finalists.”
Mrs. Martin said that all of her students put in 100 percent effort, so she wished they all could have won.
“My least favorite part about the process and contest was not everyone could win,” Mrs. Martin said. “I think there were some really good PSAs that were not chosen as the top five finalists.”
Preparation to create the PSAs began when senior communications students studied and analyzed PSAs. Next, members of the CBS 6 creative team visited the class to explain the purpose and rules of the contest. Students then created storyboards and received feedback from Mrs. Martin and television instructor Melissa Carothers. Finally, Brett Feinstein, partner in Pound, Feinstein and Associates, Inc., met with each student to suggest how to reshoot, edit or revise his or her message. Students had two weeks to shoot and edit the PSAs.
Tony said the process was not easy, but once he found out he was a finalist he made sure everyone knew to vote for him.
“I went teacher by teacher to get their students to vote for me,” Tony said. “I had classmates help me make posters, send emails and simply use word of mouth.”
Lori said her PSA discouraged teens from drinking alcohol by showing that college is more important than drinking.
“I was really shocked to be a finalist because I didn’t think mine was that good,” Lori said. “I thought PSAs by other students in the class were a lot better than mine.”
Lori posted her finalist status on Instagram and Facebook and sent out mass emails to teachers and clubs.
“Even though I didn’t win, it was still cool being a finalist,” Lori said.
Hannah said the focus of her PSA was on the 60 percent of high school students who report never drinking a sip of alcohol.
“I think I was a finalist because I had a unique idea that no other student used or had,” Hannah said.
Senior participant Harley Perritt said the best experience was working through the process of creating a PSA by herself. She also said she was happy that one of her classmates won.
“I’m excited that Tony won because I know we have had finalists in the past that haven’t won, so now it’s nice to have someone who won from the Center for Communications,” Harley said. “Tony deserved to win because he put in the effort every day to get others to vote for him.”
Senior participant Macy Shupe said she was thrilled that Tony’s PSA had a large audience.
“It was really surreal seeing my classmate’s video on the Grammys. In the center we create something that hundreds of people see, but Tony’s video was seen by thousands,” Macy said.