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Energy-conservation videos win $25K for Penn-Trafford

| Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013, 10:15 p.m.

Two short videos produced by Penn-Trafford High School students won $25,000 for the district through an energy-conservation contest sponsored by West Penn Power.

“Electracula,” a film by Alyssa Waldron, Brian Dulemba and Mike Malloy about the “electricity vampires” lurking in the typical home, won the $20,000 first prize from a field of 72 entries for the West Penn Power service area.

The ESPN-style “Energy Draft,” by Josh Bujakowski, Kris Vucelich, Evan Davis and Robert Crawford, received $5,000 for its recap of three families' energy-saving choices like buying LED light bulbs and surge protectors.

Both of the videos, which were among 20 completed by Penn-Trafford students, can be viewed at www.ways2savecontest.com.

The contest was an outreach program stemming from a 2008 state law that requires electric utilities with more than 100,000 customers to reduce electricity consumption by 3 percent and peak demand for electricity by 4.5 percent by the end of May.

In “Electracula,” Matthew Fawcett narrates a grainy, black-and-white homage to vampire movies that mentions that the electricity required to power your microwave clock is more than that needed to cook your food.

The homeowner, played by Fallon Hammer, kills the electricity vampires around her house by plugging her gadgets and appliances into a surge protector or a timer that shuts off when they're fully charged.

The student team shot the video at Alyssa's house in Harrison City and featured her brother, Lucas, as one of the three vampires.

“I naturally like old movies, so I kind of put it together, and the name ‘Electracula' came together later,” said Alyssa, a sophomore. “We just kind of tried to add bits and pieces of classic movies into it.”

Meanwhile, “Energy Draft” features highlights and analysis of a family deciding to plant trees around their home — deemed a “sleeper pick” by one talking head — to cut costs by providing shade in the summer and blocking the wind during winter.

Video production teacher Steve Vinton said the money is required to be spent on energy efficiency at the school. He said he was proud of the students' work.

“It's tough to tell a story in 90 seconds, but that's part of the challenge,” Vinton said.

Representatives from the Shaver's Creek Environmental Center at Penn State University were among the judges.

Todd Meyers, a spokesman for FirstEnergy, West Penn's parent company, likened the contest to the Keep America Beautiful ad campaign of the 1970s that showed a Native American crying because of litter and pollution. The students can be a driving force by bringing energy-conserving ideas into their homes to help inform their parents and change habits, Meyers said.

“These kids did a great job of conveying what can be boring or humdrum, and, in some cases, did better than what some of the professionals can do,” he said.

Chris Foreman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400 ext. 8671 or cforeman@tribweb.com.

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