Share This Page

Avonworth middle-schoolers' anti-viral video catches on

There was no way Ashley Abernephy was going to shake hands with an Ohio Township police officer without protecting herself from germs — so she pumped some hand sanitizer on the officer's hand.

"I saw the hand sanitizer in my bookbag, and realized I should put it on his hand to get my point across," said Abernephy, 13, of Ohio Township, an eighth-grader at Avonworth Middle School. "I hope everyone takes precautions."

That's why Abernephy and her classmates created a video released on YouTube last week to offer tips on how to protect their peers from H1N1 infection. In the video, which had nearly 800 hits by Wednesday afternoon, students in Michael Lincoln's communication technologies class meld a mock newscast with footage of "secret agents" chasing down those not washing their hands properly.

"It started out as an instructional video on handwashing, but progressed to a full-blown movie we could imagine students watching," Lincoln said. "They figured how many students want to sit there and watch someone washing their hands?"

The video quickly gained popularity, with more than 500 hits before the weekend. Avonworth hasn't had any H1N1 cases — to school officials' knowledge — and students hope to keep it that way.

"A lot of students have seen our video, and I think it will help us from getting it," said Erika Nosal, 14, of Ohio Township, who played a suspect in the video. "I'm slightly worried because it's so contagious."

Students wrote, starred in, produced and directed the video, which was the technologies class' first project. The 18-week course focuses on teaching students how to use technology to get a message across so they aren't just the recipient of media messages. Lincoln said he hopes his students learn the power of viral advertising from the project.

Nosal did.

"There are signs everywhere telling you to wash your hands, but we incorporated humor into our message and tried to present it in a way that people would want to pass the message on," Nosal said. "People are noticing it."

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.