The PSA announcement came just three days after a threatening message scrawled on a PLHS bathroom stall prompted extra security at the school and an investigation by San Diego Unified School District police.
The PSA campaign will target all of San Diego County with two 30-second PSAs by PLHS and San Diego High School teacher Kyle Williams’ film class students Buster Underwood, David Castellon and Yasmin Diaz. Both PSAs, produced in English and Spanish, will run on television and online. Cox Communications has partnered with the students and SDUSD and will air each PSA 200 times during June.
Prior to the June 4 PSA screenings, Sgt. Carlos Vargas of SDUSD Police said the district approached both high schools about doing the PSAs because “We wanted to be able to collaborate with students and give them an opportunity to have a voice, and extend that in the nationwide movement we’re seeing creating another layer of protection by creating these PSAs.”
Concerning the recent PLHS threat, Vargas noted: “It was writing on the wall that was very vague. But we always have to do everything we can to make sure the campus is safe. We definitely want to let the kids know we’re going to take every threat seriously.”
Vargas said students making threats is a serious matter. He added students can be prosecuted for anything from a misdemeanor to a felony depending on the circumstances.
Anthony Torres and Jakob Tiger, seniors in PLHS instructor Anthony Palmiotto’s cinematic arts class and aspiring filmmakers, talked about doing the school-safety spot.
“We started it, we filmed it, we were in it, we edited it,” said Torres.
“It took us several days to produce,” said Tiger. “We had to make several different versions to see what turned out best.”
In doing the PSA, Torres said, “Our intention was to get this message out – and now it’s out and away.”
Discussing what can be done to make schools safer, Tiger said, “Maybe have more than just one cop at the school for security. We created this video hoping to make an impact on how people view suspicious activity.”
Asked why school shootings are becoming more frequent, Torres said, “Because nothing has really been done about it.”
Torres pointed out PSAs could also lend themselves to addressing other school problems, like student depression, suicide and pollution.
Following the PSA screenings, SDUSD Police chief Mike Marquez, said: “By providing support to our school communities, we help to create a safer learning environment for students and faculty. I’m calling on the greater San Diego community to join us in this campaign that, if you see something, we want you to say something. We want people to report suspicious activity and, certainly, criminal activity.”
“I’m very proud of the [student] work that has been done,” said PLHS principal Hans Becker.
To view the PSAs and their call to action in English visit
https://drive.google.com/file/d/16voS9e3oMats6OOv21LzJYFHBHKAp8AU/view?usp=sharing, https://drive.google.com/file/d/1OSCqVsSBHCZY90YJghonneIxyCjcd-T8/view?usp=sharing, or in Spanish at https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Q7tjVd1t8EtLeTAF1z9vrzwS0MYy4M0O/view?usp=sharing.