Anti-Gun Violence Initiative

For the past 3 years, the Bronx County Historical Society teamed up with two groups to create projects which were both thought provoking and a way to engage and prepare students for potential real-life scenarios by way of art.  Two schools in the borough, The High School for Contemporary Arts and The Forward School took on the challenge and over the course of a few months presented their teachers and peers their final projects. The expected goal was to help the students of both schools to gain more knowledge on how to deal and find ways to end gun violence in their communities. With enough anti-gun prevention methods constantly taught throughout the program, it is with hope that the students will apply these skills in their everyday lives.  It is also with hope that this program, strongly emphasizing the use of the arts to combat gun violence in inner city communities, teaches students interpretive ways to contribute their own personal struggle to stop the violence.

The High School for Contemporary Arts*

The program educator was Mr. Brandon Baskin, a visual artist and owner of Vivid Imagination Videography. Mr. Baskin is not only coached the students to participate in a culminating film, but in its production process as well. The students picked up a wealth of skills such as film production, directing, acting, public speaking, script development, and other interpretive methods of communication and brainstorming. The film titled Path to Redemption highlighted the students’ personal experience dealing with gun violence. Through a broad range on captivating stories, students produced professional short film, and created dialogue that captured the imaginations of their peers, school and community. The class examined the ways in which teens are exposed to guns and gun violence. Students worked in groups to achieve their anti-gun violence message, in relating to their family friendly audience, and in creating a compelling story for parents and children to enjoy reading together.

*This year, the High School for Contemporary Arts is working with the Teachers and Writers Collaborative

After completion students should be able to:

  •     Explain the genres of a film.
  •     Identify different types of shots and angles.
  •     Analyze the messages and moods in films as conveyed by shot and angle choices
  •     Evaluate cultural influence and significance in films.
  •     Describe various film related jobs.
  •     Write engaging film treatments.
  •     Storyboard ideas.
  •     Identify parts of the video camera and explain what they do.
  •     Use a video camera to record well-framed shots.
  •     Record good audio.
  •     Demonstrate understanding of sequencing by producing in-camera edited sequence.
  •     Use appropriate vocabulary for editing.
  •     Edit in-camera and using Final Cut Pro.
  •     Discuss and critique professional and student work














The Forward School

Students from The Forward School took a different approach with their projects.  The project educators at the Forward School were Mr. David Surface and Ms. Amina Henry, from the Teachers and Writers Collaborative (T&W). The T&W Collaborative seeks to educate the imagination by offering innovative creative writing programs for students and teachers, and by providing a variety of publications and resources to support learning through the literary arts. Students gained a wealth of information by learning and using different techniques in writing and other interpretive arts to deal with certain situations. The T&W teaching artist/writer worked with The Forward School to learn more about the students and the school community.  During the meeting the writer and teachers collaborated to outline the program structure and the intended goals and outcomes.  The writer then planned for 10 days of instruction that explored themes of gun violence to create prose, poetry, and playwriting from a diverse range of authors.  The curriculum included:

  • READ: Following T&W’s mentor text model the writer will identify a variety of prose, poetry, and playwriting from a diverse range of authors that explore the theme of gun violence
  • WRITE: Students will respond to writing prompts inspired by the selected text as well as engage in reflective writing exercises in response to the dialogue that takes place during the workshops.
  • REHEARSE & PERFORM: In preparation for the culminating assembly, the teaching artist will help students make final selections of the pieces of writing they would like to present, and to stage and rehearse for the assembly.

Below is students’ final anthology