SLHS students discuss ‘Success,’ a locally made film about career pathways

SARANAC LAKE — Recently, students at Saranac Lake High School were shown “Success!” a musical short film by local resident Kirk Sullivan that features local actors singing and dancing in school classrooms and hallways. Following the video, the 10th-graders engaged in a discussion with Sullivan and counselors Maria Braun and Christine Bell about how their personal interests can lead to fulfilling careers, whether they decide to attend college or not.

“The purpose of this project is to get students to start thinking about what they like to do, what makes them curious, and what types of learners they are,” Sullivan said in a news release, “so they can start talking with adults about the options available to them after high school. College is great, but it’s not for everybody. There are many pathways to successful, fulfilling careers.”

In the video, teenage actors sing about their interests. (“I want to work for myself, and I’m good with my hands!”) Then adult teachers respond with options. (“There’s certificates that you can get from training programs!”) During the chorus, the actors’ heads are comically replaced with photos of real local educators as they sing, “Whoever you are, it’s time to start thinking about what you like to do. (You got options!) … You’ll find success if you focus on what you like and let it guide you.” The video also cites other potential avenues for students such as trade schools, community colleges, internships, scholarships and grants.

“The video is very well done,” said SLHS Principal Josh Dann, “It’s a non-traditional way to get conversations started about what the future looks like. As educators, we have to keep pushing these conversations.”

“It appeals to [students’] learning styles as far as being auditory and visual,” said Maria Braun. “It helped them engage in a mindful discussion about their futures, and it lays out the framework for how they might get more information about their interests.”

“It’s definitely effective as a conversation starter,” said counselor Christine Bell, “They’re at a point where they’re making big decisions about their schedules going into their junior year about where they’d like to devote their time and develop their skills, so it was good timing.”

The project was funded by a grant from Adirondack Foundation, which has been committed to this issue in recent years.

“There are many different pathways for youth to find gainful employment and fulfilling lives in our region,” said Adirondack Foundation’s Jennifer Russel, “We hope this video is used widely by schools and communities to spark conversations and support our youth to find opportunities and resources that match their interests and strengths.”

“This project has been so rewarding,” said Sullivan, “It was so much fun to shoot it here locally, and it was a pleasure to share it with students.”

Ultimately, Sullivan hopes to make more customized versions of the video for other schools around the Adirondacks.

“The Adirondack Foundation encouraged me to produce something unique that would be memorable. I couldn’t be more grateful for their support and for everything they do for our communities. Hopefully this video helps students across the Adirondacks to start having these important conversations.”

Sullivan grew up in Saranac Lake, studied cinematic arts at the University of Southern California and is a career filmmaker. He moved back to the area in recent years, and his filmmaking company, Bing Bang Boom Inc., has an office in downtown Saranac Lake.

The video can be found on YouTube at https://youtu.be/3-BtkCqQH0M.


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