Wilder students tackle sustainability topics in new animation film

Students from Harry Hukkinen’s art class supported Tuesday’s premiere by producing canvas paintings of the characters. (Darren Svan/EdNews)

Two years worth of meticulous animation work will be on display Tuesday at the historic Egyptian Theater in Boise when Wilder students premiere their film “The Return to Oz.”

Tickets for the 7 p.m. show are free and can be reserved at this link.

Students engaged with every aspect of an animation production: from writing scripts and casting voices to creating original backgrounds, positioning cameras and lights, writing music, and editing animation sequences.

“It is fun and they get to see their work on the big screen. It helps motivate them to know that their work will be seen by friends and family,” said Laura Shoemaker, the district’s spokesperson.

About 100 students in elementary, middle and high school contributed in multiple ways: writers, vocalists, artists, animators/puppeteering, editors, and sound design. Because Wilder is a small, collaborative district, the film project allowed elective teacher Mike Nelson to utilize the talents of multiple age groups during its yearslong development.

Sound integration is a critical part of the film. (Darren Svan/EdNews)

The film was produced on campus in a modular classroom that serves as their production studio, complete with a makeshift recording booth, Apple computers and tablets, sound equipment and an oversized monitor. They produced the movie using a software program by Wonder Media Story Maker.

In the film, Dorothy faces new challenges as she returns to Oz to create an Earth Day project for school. To her surprise, the sustainability topics she learned about in class have become real issues in Oz. With the help of Scarecrow, Tinman, and Lioness, Dorothy discovers that small solutions can have a big impact on the planet, the district said in a press release.

As an educational tool, producing the film develops technical skills, gives students real-life experience and incorporates writing, speech and art, Shoemaker said. Students from Harry Hukkinen’s art class supported Tuesday’s premiere by producing canvas paintings of the characters.

“It has something for everyone,” said Shoemaker.

The film incorporates real-world issues of recycling, the importance of species and trees, the pros and cons of pesticides and pollution.

Film animation instructor Mike Nelson discusses how the new movie was made by his students in their studio. (Darren Svan/EdNews)

Trying to teach kids and others that it doesn’t take much to make a difference. It doesn’t matter how little or what age you are, every little thing you do makes a difference,” said Shoemaker.

The purpose of “The Return to Oz” is to inspire and empower students to take action in their communities and create a better world for all, the district said in a press release.

Wilder School District is a rural, agricultural community west of the Treasure Valley. The town of 1,700 serves about 700 students, including over 200 virtual students. Wilder consists of a high minority population with over 70% Spanish-speaking families. Nearly 100% of Wilder students qualify for free and reduced lunch due to low socioeconomic status.

Darren Svan

Darren Svan

Reporter Darren Svan has a background in both journalism and education. Prior to working for military schools at overseas installations, he was news editor at several publications in Wyoming and Colorado. You can send news tips to [email protected].

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