History's alive on video thanks to PBHS students

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Coyote Flats Video Series:

Introduction to Coyote Flats Pioneer Village

The Eaton House

Bowville School

Train Station


There wasn’t a red carpet or paparazzi but an event at Picture Butte High School Friday featured excited movie goers, a big screen and some impressive digital storytelling.

The movie makers were students in the school’s media program, made possible in part by a grant from Prairie Tractor and Engine Museum Society and Coyote Flats Pioneer Village. The money was used to purchase video cameras and other equipment.

The stars of the silver screen were Coyote Flats volunteers or donors, telling the story of the historic village, of pioneer life and of their connection to historic buildings now on display.

And like any successful Hollywood flick, these videos are likely to spawn sequels, as other students can see what’s possible in the school’s well equipped media lab.

“This is our students' first kick at this,” said Principal Mark Lowe, who taught the media class. “This particular class will be responsible for setting the bar for the next group.”

Students produced five videos for Coyote Flats, one a general promotional vehicle for the museum and village, the others showcasing four buildings on the site. While each video was roughly five minutes long, each took hours of painstaking editing and audio work.

“In the end, you see five minutes and it goes by so fast,” Lowe said. “You can take pride in what you’ve done here.”

Kimberly Lyall, project manager with Coyote Flats located just south of Picture Butte, congratulated not only the students who produced the videos, but also a former PBHS student who initiated the idea of recording the area’s history for future generations.

Nicole Desautels, who graduated from Picture Butte High in 2013, was working at Coyote Flats and hearing stories from long-time residents first-hand. One day she mentioned to Lyall her concern that those stories would be lost as generations of southern Albertans passed on. The idea for capturing those stories for future generations was born.

Lyall said the project is an example of the positive impact students can have through their ideas, their hard work and their perseverance.

This student-driven concept and student-created videos will leave a legacy at Coyote Flats, she said, and by capturing these stories, the media students have honoured themselves, honoured their families and honoured their community.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our school, our students and our community,” she said.

Lowe said he’s already been approached by three other community groups about the possibility of students creating videos for them.

Palliser Regional Schools Trustee Craig Whitehead said the videos were “fantastic,” and the partnership between the school and Coyote Flats was a win-win.

Students had a purpose for their work, had an appreciative audience and filled a community need. The project will look good on student resumes and helped give students a deeper appreciation for their community history, Whitehead said.

Lyall, who has worked with professional videographers, said she was impressed with the quality of the student videos and she’s thrilled with how much students accomplished in just a few months. The equipment arrived in late November, giving students little time to learn how to use the gear before interviewing individuals at Coyote Flats.

The videos are full of details from a bygone era. The music heard on the videos was produced on a hand-cranked phonograph that’s part of the Coyote Flats display.

Kyle Groenenboom, a Grade 12 student who was part of the media class, said the project was a lot of work but worth every minute.

“We ended up with a great product,” he said. “In the end, I’m very proud of what we did.”

He hopes other students will sign up for the media class next year.

“I’d definitely encourage everyone to do it if they love movies, love to act and love technology in general,” he said.

For more informaton on Coyote Flats Pioneer Village, please visit coyoteflats.org