Houston High students creating earthquake documentary
Houston High School students are using surveillance video for a documentary about the Nov. 30 earthquake.
Houston Middle School is shut down indefinitely after the extensive damage caused by the 7.1 shaker.
One hallway camera captured a student running as the earthquake started. The video cuts to black for 15 seconds because the power went off. The backup generator kicked in and revealed the destruction.
“This big boom hit and shook this place really hard. It was kind of cool to see it, but also realistic and brought you back to that moment,” said Houston High business teacher Kris Wagoner.
As the yearbook adviser, Wagoner wanted to save that snapshot in time.
“With all the videos and all the other stuff kids were putting online, we wanted to bring all that stuff together collectively,” Wagoner said.
Students in his AV-Tech class got to work compiling footage for their documentary, cutting together some of the most compelling pieces of surveillance video and clips from local and national newscasts.
Sophomore Justine Debuse said she was shocked at the damage to the middle school, which was recorded as Sens. Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski visited the building days after the quake.
“It’s destroyed. If you watch the walkthrough of the senator and people going through the school, it’s really scary,” Debuse said. “Concrete on the ground, straight from the ceiling. It was crazy.”
Students collected interviews with their teachers and peers for the project, weaving their stories into the documentary.
There are little details that stick out in sophomore Leiah Rusher’s memory. She was getting ready to leave her English class when the shaking started.
“I was in shock for a bit then decided, ‘Okay, it’s time to get under a table. You know what to do,’" Rusher said. "The tables were spreading apart so we had to keep them together,” she described clenching her fists around the table legs.
Sophomore Xander Gamble said the earthquake was “not as scary as it could have been” because his teacher didn’t have many things that fell during the shaking.
“Looking back on it, I was actually pretty calm, mostly because I’m so used to the drills,” Gamble said.
Wagoner hopes the surveillance video provides a lesson in how lucky everyone was to escape unharmed.
“The whole point is to get the kids to never forget that day. And hopefully, it’s important that kids understand what they need to do to be prepared for an earthquake,” Wagoner said.
Students hope to have their documentary finished and posted online by the end of April.
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