Desertmartin primary film project ‘benefits community’

Pupils of Desertmartin Primary School editing their film project. INMU27 500con
Pupils of Desertmartin Primary School editing their film project. INMU27 500con

A LOCAL class of P7s hopes to immortalise its school’s 125 year history on film this summer, thanks to the National Lottery Culture for All Awards.

Desertmartin Primary School P7s have been busy in front of - and behind - the camera. They have been storyboarding, filming, sound recording and fronting a film entitled ‘The School I love so well’. They will even have a say in its editing.

“The knowledge and confidence the children are gaining is just wonderful to see” says headmistress Mrs Fullerton.

“They get to work with professional film makers, BNL Productions of Portadown. From the start the P7s were in charge of the shape of the film, but once we had our brainstorming session, the ideas came thick and fast from P5s and P6s too.

“And of course, because we are a small, close-knit rural school, every child, down to the littlest P1 gets to participate! We wouldn’t dream of leaving a child out.”

The idea for the project began five years ago, when the school held a reunion and display for ex-pupils.

So many from the community came and commented that the display should be more open to the wider community, that the idea of preparing for the 125 of a few parents and the Ulster-Scots Community Network, the grant was obtained.

The final version of the film is a closely guarded secret until late November, when it will premiere on a special night at a central Magherafelt location!

Pupils and local historians as well as ex-pupils are already collecting photographs and memorabilia for the next part of the project – a display of memorabilia from the school’s long history and a wider look at the history of the education system in the area.

This display will run for two days and culminate in the film premiere and a musical entertainment reflecting the school’s timeline. The pupils’ media skills will not end with the film, for ipads and software gained as part of the Lottery grant will enable them to carry on filming in years to come.

Next term they plan oral history interviews with generations of locals who have passed through the school so they can present these at the film premiere.

Mrs Fullerton notes that the project has been beneficial on many levels for the children, not just their IT skills. “They have learned that their ideas count, they have learned what quality working as a team can produce. They have also, almost accidentally, learned history, because they had to find out how pupils in the past would have spent their days. And of course, to do that, they have discussed schooldays with their parents and grandparents, so the film is very much a community project”.

Desertmartin Primary School film project will benefit the community by leaving a legacy connecting all ages with knowledge of their past and an involvement in passing it on.

Mrs Fullerton put it succinctly when she said “We want our wee school to go on for another 125 years and we want future pupils to be able to watch our film in years to come and see how their grannies and grandas looked as pupils in 2013”.