Skyline High School student spreads ‘be nice’ message after threat

October 16, 2012

By Warren Kagarise

The tense days after Issaquah School District administrators closed Skyline High School due to a shooting threat spurred chatter on Facebook and Twitter.

In the aftermath, though, a video from Skyline junior Jake Barokas turned into a bona fide viral sensation.

Inspired by the unity students displayed after administrators closed school in response to the Sept. 19 threat, Barokas created a video based on a simple message: Be nice.

“Every day, we pass peers and people who don’t necessarily fit into your same group at school, but all of the sudden everyone is together on Facebook,” he said.

The post accumulated more than 800 likes, and users shared the video more than 1,500 times since Barokas hit the upload button Sept. 20.

“I was blown away. The feedback that I received — I had no idea that it would do that,” he said. “I got messages from people I didn’t even know.”

Barokas created the clip by duct-taping his iPhone to his computer and, speaking directly into the smartphone’s camera, filmed in roughly one-sentence bursts and then edited the pieces together.

The backdrop is his rumpled bed and, just inside the frame, a box of Frosted Mini-Wheats.

“I was eating cereal the whole time in between cuts,” Barokas said. “People have been saying, ‘Love the cereal box’ and ‘Mini-Wheats make me happy’ and ‘Be nice brought to you by Kellogg’s.’”

Skyline Principal Lisa Hechtman said the video shifted the conversation from the threat.

“Any time a student is going to take time out in order to make a video, and when they’re going to do that about something that is heartfelt and emotional in a way that even adults can connect to it — where they’re not raging against the machine or taking down the man — I think we should pay attention,” she said. “It’s one of those pieces where they’re bridging that generational gap between adolescence and adulthood.”

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