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Millington Central senior uses personal trails for inspiration to reach Nationals

By Thomas Sellers Jr.

Millington Central High School senior and broadcasting student Noah Ongay loads up his NAACP ACT-SO winning piece during class. Last month, Ongay was awarded first-place in the competition's filmmaking category earning a spot in Nationals this summer.

Millington Central High School senior and broadcasting student Noah Ongay loads up his NAACP ACT-SO winning piece during class. Last month, Ongay was awarded first-place in the competition’s filmmaking category earning a spot in Nationals this summer.

Broadcasting Instructor Marshonn Calvin reviews some of the upcoming edits for his video Change with Noah Ongay before they take it to Nationals in Philadelphia this summer. Ongay has worked along side classmates like fellow senior Kadasha Allen all school year on various projects.

Broadcasting Instructor Marshonn Calvin reviews some of the upcoming edits for his video Change with Noah Ongay before they take it to Nationals in Philadelphia this summer. Ongay has worked along side classmates like fellow senior Kadasha Allen all school year on various projects.

While most in the Class of 2015 are enduring senioritis with thoughts of final exams, proms and graduation, Noah Ongay is just thankful he’s able to walk the halls of Millington Central High School as the latest NAACP ACT-SO competition winner.
Back on March 13, Ongay beat 10 Shelby County School students in the Filmmaking category in the ACT-SO Regional held at the First Baptist Church Broad in Memphis with his piece titled Change.
“My senior year has been really rewarding,” Ongay said. “I’ve accomplished things I thought I never could accomplish.”
The first thing Ongay accomplished this year was helping to bring Project 7 to MCHS as an outlet for students to express their Christianity.
“It’s been God’s will for this young man to come to my class,” MCHS Broadcast Instructor Marshonn Calvin said. “The things he’s been able to do since coming in here and with him starting Project 7. We’ve never had except the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, it’s the only organization we have on campus associated with faith. And he’s able to bring people in. I’m telling you a majority of the school has been involved with Project 7.”
Along with Project 7, Ongay was trying to make the most of his first and only year in Calvin’s program. He was ready to take on the challenge of following in the legacy of past Calvin award winners like Jordan Brooks, Stanton Brown, Gabe O’Neal, Jherika Brown, Quametra Wilborn, Randall Davis and Ruben Seymor just to name a few.
Ongay submitted a short film featuring MCHS students Jessica Parks and Layla Gray documenting the pains of depression and battling the desires of suicide.
“I tackled that topic because there are a lot of teenagers that faculty and staff don’t see going through emotions and feelings of ending their life,” he said. “I wanted to relate it to them.
“Me personally I have faced those challenges,” Ongay acknowledged. “I’ve dealt with thoughts like that. It’s really common, more common than people realize.”
In his film, Ongay uses a black and white vision to illustrate the dark places his main character is battling. Stickie notes communicate to the viewer some of the suicidal thoughts of the girl. She is crying out for help through words written on the stickie notes and a mirror in the school.
Finally some light and color come to the film showing the viewer the girl realizes she’s not alone in her battle of depression.
Ongay recently battle those thoughts of loneliness. There were times he wanted to quit life because the pain was too much.
“We didn’t even know he was going through stuff like that,” Calvin said. “The thing so awesome about God, you never know where He’s going to put you.
“He didn’t know he had people here who cared about him,” he continued. “He found out through this project that if we had known, we would have talked to him. I’ve talked to a lot of kids who have thought about committing suicide. These kids are dealing with issues and a lot of us don’t take the time out to get to know these kids. We have to do that.”
Ongay has an outlet for his passion of filmmaking and he has an avenue to release some of the demons that have plagued him throughout his young life.
“I feel very accomplished,” he said. “I feel certain that God used my problems to bring it out there. Now I’m going to be showing my piece to teenagers around the country. I hope I can continue to impact teenagers across the country.”
Ongay’s meaning project has helped him make history as the first Asian-American to compete and win in the filmmaking division of the Memphis Regional NAACP ACT-SO. Now Ongay is eying more history this summer when he takes his film to Nationals in Philadelphia.
“I’ve been very interest in film,” Ongay said. “I’ve taken film classes in the past. None of them really help me. It was like textbooks and watching films. I never had the hands on experience. I found out broadcasting is that hands on experience. So I wanted to reach out through broadcasting and learn about film through this class.
“This has been a saving grace,” he concluded. “My hopes for the future are to eventually, maybe not a career, but do something that involves film.”

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