The Bastrop Fires from AHS Media Arts on Vimeo.
For students at Stephen F. Austin High School’s Media Arts program, the one subject they all wanted to report on this year was the drought. As part of PBS Newshour’s Student Reporting Labs project, which pairs public media mentors with high school students learning reporting around the country, several Austin students produced four different videos on the drought.
The first video, above, looks at the impact of the Bastrop Complex fires that began on Labor Day weekend 2011. Those fires burned more than 1,500 homes, took 2 lives and were the sixth-worst fires in U.S. history. Students Audrey Kuhl, Samantha Melomo, Olivia Mendez, Connor Johnstone and Madison Fare traveled to Bastrop to see firsthand the destruction, and learn how citizens are rebuilding after the fires. That video won the award for “PBS Package of the Year” at the Reporting Labs awards ceremony in May.
If you were one of the sixty thousand people at the Austin City Limits festival last year, you may have been surprised to find acres and acres of lush, thick grass covering the grounds. To find out how the festival has learned to adjust to drought (and even create an oasis in the midst of it), students Cailyn Lewis, James Cumby, Ben Swisher, Catalina Lizaraga, Robin Livesay and Haley Barlow produced a video called “ACL & The Drought:”
At the peak of the drought, more than a quarter of the water systems in Texas had water restrictions in place. To drill down and see what that meant for one community, students David Peach, Neal Behymer, Eleanor Hicks-Green, Madeline Pesoli and Allison Allred produced a piece called “Stage 2 Water Restrictions” that looks at how Austinites are living with less water:
The last video from the group is “Foundations & The Drought,” which looks at one costly impact of the drought to the state’s city-dwellers: cracked foundations. As soil dried out, foundations moved, leaving residents with costly plumbing and construction bills. Students Kiko Taniguchi, McLean Bell, Preston Marchbanks, Will Perez and Lamar Nava produced the feature: