Thursday, December 9, 2021

Collier County Public Schools Celebrate 2020 Seniors

Rumination from the Rock and Beyond

Photos by Jory Westberry | Darnayelle Dalusma (Palmetto Ridge High School) and her proud father after she records her speech for the virtual graduation.

Our Seniors were cheated, robbed, and thwarted. Suddenly, with no final hugs to their teachers, administrators, school personnel and friends without an inkling if and when they could return to school. Friends parted, belongings were left behind, virtual learning framed the lessons and assignments were completed and submitted online. Teachers responded virtually or by phone.  

No athletic practices, competitions and culminating banquets. No recognitions or signing days for those college, university, military or career bound. Absent were the proms, marching across the stage to receive those coveted diplomas, flipping their tassels and throwing their mortarboards, Grad Night with all the other CCPS Seniors at the YMCA and graduation parties with family and the friends they grew up with.  

Instead, their favorite restaurants were closed, along with theme parks and their favorite local venues. Social distancing was necessary, even at beachesthe few that reopened. Even boating was restricted and beach destinations, if available, insisted upon anchoring at a safe distance from each other. 

Emotions ranged from disappointment and depression to anger and outrage and lots of tears. “It’s not fair, we work hard for 12 years of school and it’s finally our time to walk across the stage and be acknowledged, and now we can’t do it,” was a common reaction. And frankly, how many of us wouldn’t be feeling and expressing the same frustration in their shoes? High School Graduation is a culminating event, and for many, the highlight of their transition from childhood to adulthood, no matter where life takes them. 

But then… enter CCPS Superintendent Dr. Kamela Patton, her Cabinet, high school administrators and teachers. Plans were launched to creatively plan events for the 2020 graduates that would recognize them in a special way. CCPS partnered with Guerilla Media to create a “graduation” ceremony for each of the Collier County Public School High Schools so students could be recognized, albeit in a unique way. Actual high school graduation ceremonies on athletic fields have been planned for late July, if safety conditions permit.  

Due to the COVID-19 sequestering, Guerilla Media Film & Video, who does on-location video recording for clients, had to record at their personal residence. This was a special project between CCPS and Guerilla Media to support the Class of 2020. Students were given strict appointment times, maintained safe distances and were photographed in their caps and gowns. Gigi Clean was hired because they have been specially certified for disinfection during COVID-19 and surfaces were sanitized properly.  

Recognized students gave speeches on camera that their teachers, family and friends will be able to watch virtually when the final videos are completed and released. It was especially poignant listening to the speeches. Yes, there was some angst, but the courage and strength of our Seniors were evident in every speech. You’ll have a chance to watch the 2020 videos when they are released as they’ll be posted to each high school’s site on June 3rd. 

This clearly affected Hope Daley who said, “The thought resonates with me that Matt and I may be the only people to ever hear every CCPS high school speech in one week. Hearing the resilience, determination and optimism of the graduating class in the face of current circumstances is beyond inspiring. Many times I was moved to tears and stood in awe and admiration at how these young adults are facing these challenges.” 

What Motivates Guerilla Media Film Video? 

Dorian DeJesus from Palmetto Ridge High School.

Hope Daley and Matt Dykes are married and have worked in faith and family television, including Sky Angel and national television. After the market took a fall in 2008, they decided to start their own film and video production company, become involved locally in Naples, where Hope grew up, and leave the world better than they found it. 

Many people say those words, however, Hope and Matt put their talent where their hearts are. For the last 8 years, they have produced the Golden Apple Teacher Recognition television program for Champions for Learning in collaboration with NBC-2. They support non-profits and have worked with over 70 non-profits in this area. They highlight many causes, but animal rescues, education, veterans and organizations that serve those with intellectual and developmental disabilities are their focus with many projects in each category.  

According to Hope, “We can impact others in a positive way by using our God-given gifts and abilities. We are committed to organizations like Champions for Learning because they provide scholarships to many students who are the first in their family to attend college and for some, to even graduate high school. Non-profits are our focus.” 

Both Hope and Matt spoke for years at “Thinking Outside the Box” seminars advising non-profits how to increase their donor base through the use of video. They have produced commercials, compelling fundraising videos, and overview videos to help explain the mission of non-profits. “And we always promote all of our clients across social media platforms to garner them exposure,” Hope explained.  

Some of their accomplishments include creating a video, “Honor at Home” for the Honor Flight which recreates the experience of the DC trip for veterans who are not well enough to travel. Both of their families have a long history of military, civil and public service. Another amazing experience for Guerilla Media Film & Video was to host the Department of Defense as they had veteran Joe Galloway interview Vietnam Veterans for the National Archives. (FYI – Mel Gibson played Joe Galloway in the movie, “We Were Soldiers”). 

“We were honored to help the 2020 graduates through this video celebration,” stated Hope. “Hearing the 3400+ graduate names being read with pride by school administrators and teachers and the magnitude of the number of families who will miss out on this milestone occasion… that’s why we really want to make this virtual commencement something special, and hopefully, a wonderful keepsake that no other class will have to do. 

“We could not have accomplished this feat without the cooperation and coordination with CCPS. They provided video footage, yearbook photos and highlights from the year to bring the fun memories of the Class of 2020 to life. For our first countywide school-district project, it was a wild ride with crazy deadlines, but was incredibly rewarding,” 

This is where the commencements will be viewed. CCPS main site is hosting everything, broken down by school: 

What Is Another NonProfit That Guerilla Media Film Video Is Involved With? 

Shy Wolf Sanctuary has been another project that we’ve been committed to helping. We hosted Shy Wolf Sanctuary on our property at Christmas for their Santa Paws Fundraiser. Families had pictures taken with Santa, Mrs. Clause, elves and a sweet wolfdog in a Santa hat. Our land is uniquely set up to allow for ample parking, a fun cookout and games area and soon an outdoor movie screen in the back pasture. The Rotary Club of Naples had been discussing hosting a fund-raiser, ‘Bourbon and Brews hereobviously, that would be after people are allowed to socialize again,” Hope added with a smile. 

Life has dealt Hope and Matt some challenges, like the loss of their house in Hurricane Irma and the theft of all their video equipment, but their strength and smiles radiate to others and gives others confidence in them and Guerilla Media. 

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