English teacher Cindy Hruby had an idea for a capstone project for her seniors in 2013 that now continues to blossom through what are known as the Social Action(!) Awards.
Each year, her students learn about the seven themes of Catholic Social Teaching and choose a non-profit that fits that theme. Most students choose a local non-profit organization and compete with each other to create short films that showcase the work of those organizations. This year, students worked with 20 different non-profit organizations, getting to know their mission and working to tell their story through film.
"The project reinforces a lot of what we do in English, especially with composition," Hruby said. "It's an extension of writing, really. In the films they're informing, persuading, and storytelling. They need to be aware of audience and tone. They need to relay their message in a compelling way. They also do research and storyboards as part of the process."
Students use their communication skills beginning with the initial interview and concluding with the final thank you note sent to the various organzations.
"They do all of that...while creating something that can help people (and animals!) right here in northeast Ohio."
The student productions are shown during a screening in front of a cast of judges. This year, the six judges included photographer and Saint Ignatius alumnus Greg Murray '00, foster parents Bill & Wendy Sikora, Cinical Director for The River Intensive Outpatient Program Sam Kuntz, Account Manager at WhiteSpace Denise Copen and Communictation & Film Professor at Cleveland State University Maria Gigante, whose award winning short films have screened at over 60 film festivals around the world.
Films are judged based on content, persuasiveness, creativity, production quality and magis. The organization from the winning film then receives a $500 donation from Saint Ignatius High School. The 2018 winning film was created by John Soeder '20 and Cormac Nolan '20 for Sub-Zero Mission, an organization that helps homeless stay warm during the winter months by providing hats, coats, gloves, boots, sleeping bags, new socks, tents and other warming items.
"I love this project because it takes students beyond the classroom and out into our community in order to make a real difference," Hruby said. "This project is about using a Saint Ignatius education to actually live our faith."
Watch the winning film and learn more about Sub Zero Mission below.