By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The 13-year history of the Trojans Broadcasting Program under the leadership and guidance of Marshonn Calvin is impressive with some of the names being Edward Jones, Noah Ongay, Jordan Brooks, Rubin Seymore, Randall Davis and Gabe O’Neal.
Those Millington Central High School graduate have won the Filmmaking competition at the NAACP ACT-SO Competition in Memphis advancing to nationals.
Last Thursday at the First Baptist Broad in Memphis, Janesha Cade added her name to the list of MCHS winners earning first place for her short film “Unpromised Future.”
“I feel like the pause of America is dying,” the MCHS senior said. “Every voice counts and every one should be able to speak their voice.”
Cade’s film focused on the current state of the Black Lives Matter movement. The film also included a look back at the Civil Rights Movement helping the United States advance, but now some troubling issues have challenged that progress.
Cade was a part of a Millington sweep at the 2017 Memphis Regional NAACP ACT-SO Filmmaking Competition March 23. The trio of MCHS students to outlast the competition were Cade, Gregory Harris winning second place and Shaun Dawson taking third place.
Cade’s first-place victory allows her to advance to the National Competition in Baltimore, Maryland where she will compete for the national award July 17.
The trio of Trojans were selected by the judges over students from Germantown High School, Overton High School, Olive Branch High School, Collierville High School and other schools from the Mid-South.
Millington was represented by four students including senior Justin Marshall with “Mamba Out” a tribute to NBA legend Kobe Bryant. Harris’ film “Pushed Past My Limit” focused on social media bullying and the affects on teenagers.
And the third-place film came from the mind of Dawson “Life as Barack Obama” looking back at the path 44th U.S. President Barack Obama traveled toward his historic victory in 2008.
“It truly feels good to win in this division because it allows our students to perform at a high degree against their peers,” Calvin said. “Making storyboards, short films, documentaries, and news projects is some intense work but our students know how to perform under pressure bring home the win.”
Calvin noted several of his MCHS colleague were there before and during the event supporting his students. The support has grown for the program over the years as Trojan Broadcasting compiles the awards.
“I feel like the students have grown so much in the 13 years we’ve been doing this,” Calvin said. “We’ve placed in those 13 years, 11 times. I feel like the students are growing coming up with more dialogue. Our first year we were doing montages.
“Now they’re doing short films, documentary pieces and tribute projects,” he added. “That’s what you want our of a program, to see those students grow as media and journalism change. More kids are going into film.”
Former Trojan students have left a legacy of award-winning projects, Telly Award honors and Trojan TV. Now current students invest into the program looking to become music video directors, cover sports and be filmmakers.
“They’re bridging the gap between the old kids and where we are now,” Calvin said. “Freedom of speech is so important for our young people at this point and time. We have kids who don’t grow up with their parents, you have violence happening in their own neighborhoods. You have to be able to let that out. I feel with film and television, they should be able to cover those things that affect them.”
The MCHS students covered an array of topic from Black on Black crime, historic politics to the current state of sports.
Calvin noted programs like Young Life, a youth outreach ministry, has helped the students think outside a limited range.
The longtime instructor said spirituality becomes a vital part of his class has they develop bonds through their work.
“My class is kind of like a family,” he said. “The kids understand that I’m here for them. Nancy Norwood who hired me told me to have that approach and my mentor Vera Tolbert showed me the way to do it.”
Like his latest student Cade receiving national recognition, Calvin’s productivity in the MCHS classrooms has been appreciated afar including 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
“That letter from President Obama has had a great impact on my life,” Calvin recalled. “It goes back to my students. He noted them and encouraged me to keep up the good work.
“They mean the world to me,” he concluded. “To see them do projects like that and see them grow, it’s wonderful. Being a part of these kids’ lives is something I’ll never take for granted. I always look at why God has me here.”