Heading into a new school year after a long summer break can often be an anxiety laden experience for students and parents alike. So when a national news/media company reached out to Tatnall School with a pitch to feature their students in a special program on the “first day jitters,” administrators at the private school in Greenville jumped at the opportunity.
The video released today on Facebook introduces us to three Tatnall families with kids experiencing nervous butterflies going back to school. Other families at the school – and a few teachers – also star or serve as extras in the film.
The fruit company Dole Sunshine commissioned the short film as a way “to inspire kids and encourage them to have a great year.” Two other back-to-school videos and news article – all featuring the Tatnall students – will also be released this week.
The video culminates with images of kids on their first day of school running from the lower school division across a small parking lot to a new Caring Tree that’s been ‘planted’ near the playground and gazebo. Hanging from the tree are dozens of Dole Fruit Bowls with hand-written notes of encouragement from teachers and parents.
When producers at Glass Entertainment started their search for the perfect setting for the video series, they considered dozens of schools across Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.
There were a few reasons they selected the Greenville school located on Barley Mill Road: they admired the beauty of the campus; the 110-acre property presented expansive video opportunities; the Pre K through Grade 12 school agreed to identify families across all divisions willing to be a part of the production; and the school’s motto fit perfectly with the mission of the video.
“Glass Entertainment (the producers) shared that they were looking for campus to build the Caring Tree and I told them that we have the largest and oldest Red Oak tree in the state. And I shared our motto — Omnia In Caritate – All Things Done in Love – which plays right into that theme of kindness,” said Page McConnell, director of marketing communications at The Tatnall School. “I also talked about the vista from the top of our campus by the oak tree all the way down to our fields.”
Video watchers can’t really make the connection to Dole until the final scene, with the big reveal that puts smiles on the faces of dozens of youngsters. In order for the video to appeal to a potentially huge national audience, the name and location of the school also are not included.
But that doesn’t bother administrators at Tatnall, who are as proud of the unplanned visibility as they are of their bucolic campus.
“We scoured many schools in the area” said Glass Entertainment producer Matt Noce. “We saw pictures of the school first. If you’ve seen their campus, it’s beautiful. We were hoping we could make a fit there, and it was a match made in heaven — not only the school, but it’s students – it just all came together serendipitously,” he said.
Delaware photographer and Tatnall alumnus Jim Graham (’77) captured all the action as producers unloaded the trunk of the tree, assembled the artificial branches, and clipped the Dole fruit cups onto the lower branches so kids could reach them.
The video begins with children from each of the families – the Mrozinskis of Wilmington, the Fungs of Hockessin, and the Anderson-Dorsey family of Bear – busily preparing breakfast inside their own homes on the first day of school, where the youngest children share their anxieties about heading back to school.
Clutching her soft cougar puppet, Amelia Mrozinski says she’s nervous about starting 1st grade, and she’s worried that her best friend has moved and won’t be at school this year. But she has big brother Owen, in 5th grade, there to walk into school with her.
Kindergartener Sammy Anderson-Dorsey loves having big brother Brycen walk him into school each day. But he’s nervous because the person he looks up to the most will graduate this year. “I’m nervous because this is the last year my brother’s going to be at school with me,” says Sammy.
The Fung family presents back-to-school issues for twins, where one is a boisterous joker, the other happy but shy. “Josiah is the quieter one that’s more reserved. He will be a little more nervous. Jeremiah is the more bubbly one,” says mom Shirley Fung. “If we’re not in the same class, I’ll be upset,” says Josiah.
When the students come outside after a break in their school day, they are genuinely surprised at the enormous Caring Tree, laughing and giggling as they pull fruit cups down to read the inspirational messages. Brycen lifted his little brother Sammy to reach one he had his eye on, which was decorated with stars said, “You’re a cool cat!”
McConnell says Tatnall was pleased to participate in a campaign with two companies (Upworthy and Dole) that she says are making positive impacts in their respective businesses. “Being chosen to host this campaign was an affirmation of what we all know and hold dear about the beauty of our campus and the community of the families at Tatnall,” she said.
When Upworthy launched in 2012 (now with more than 10 million followers on Facebook), the service began curating and sharing inspirational stories that went viral over social media. They now also produce and share motivational stories on various topics ranging from health and wellness, pop culture and family.
Photos by Jim Graham Photography