Student movie documents island's struggle

GALVESTON, TX [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

They didn't start out the year thinking of themselves as hurricane storytellers, yet this group of teenagers have documented what can only be described as a life changing event. The teens are part of the advanced media and film class at Galveston's Ball High School. They shot, edited and put together a documentary called "Ike: A Documentary: The Story of a Torn City Rebuilt by Everyday Heroes."

"We wanted to do the film because I figured if anyone else ends up doing a documentary about Hurricane Ike they be able to tell it right because they're not from Galveston," said Jennifer Willcut, age 18. "We all live here. We know the struggles Galveston goes through. We know the story of how Galveston has stood strong against Hurricane Ike."

The documentary chronicles the struggles, stresses and eventual triumphs of Galvestonians as the community is rebuilt. They're experiences felt first hand by the students.

The instructor said, "We were out of school for three weeks and we weren't sure what we each other were doing. I didn't talk to my students until we got back. We sat in a circle and told our stories and we realized more than half the students had nothing left and some of them had stayed here and experienced the storm. We figured we had to do something about it."

Seeing and documenting so much pain and suffering helped some students with their own emotional healing.

Austin Almanza, age 17, said, "I want people to know we exist and it's kind of helped me cope in how it affected our community."

"I kind of changed a little, I guess," said William Gomez, age 18. "I realize the world is not going to care if you fall down. Sometimes you have to pick yourself back up on your own."

The premier of the documentary is this Thursday at the Grand Opera House in Galveston. The viewing is free of charge, but donations will be gratefully accepted. Proceeds go to the GISD Educational Fund.

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