With one month left to vote, the photography club at East Jessamine High School is sitting pretty atop a contest with a project to tell the stories of Jessamine County’s rescued primates.
The True Hero organization awards money for high schools’ and colleges’ community-service projects based on online voting. East High teacher Gina Lyons, who also volunteers at the Primate Rescue Center (PRC) in southwestern Jessamine County, was excited to have a chance to help the center when she heard about the opportunity.
“We needed some participation from the kids, so I recruited Ms. (Lindsey) Mulcahy to help us out with the photography club, and then I got together with the people I work with at the primate center, and we decided we were going to do this video of the rescue stories of some of the residents,” Lyons said.
Several members of the photography club attended the PRC’s member event May 19 to get photos to use in the video, which will run about 15 to 20 minutes and tell the story of the unification of two chimpanzee groups as well as the rescue stories of about a dozen monkeys.
East junior Becca Banks said she enjoyed meeting and learning about Jenny, a siamang gibbon more than 40 years old whose longtime mate died.
“It was cool learning about how each monkey has their own story and comes from a different place,” Banks said. “(Jenny) sings a song because she lost her male mate, and it’s really cool that she just keeps singing it even though he’s not there anymore.”
Aaron Kerfoot was surprised to learn that there were more than 50 primates housed in Jessamine County.
“It was pretty cool, since we’re in central Kentucky, and there aren’t really apes around here,” the junior said. “I didn’t even know about it, so going out there was pretty neat to see all the different monkeys; I didn’t even know all the different kinds of monkeys until we got there.”
Lyons hopes the video will be complete by June 30 — the same day the voting on TrueHero.org ends. She said that if East High remains in first place at the end of the voting, $1,000 of the $3,000 prize would go to the PRC, with the rest going to the photography club.
“We’re very happy that we’ve had so much involvement from the school and the community to get into first place; everybody’s been so involved, and that took a lot of votes, and everybody really pitched in,” she said.
The photography club worked last year to help the local animal shelter.
“I like to see them involved with the community; this isn’t the first community project we’ve done,” Mulcahy said. “I’m just really proud of this group of kids. Not only are they good students and amazing photographers, but they have a great care for animals — dogs, cats or primates.”
Lyons said she hopes the video will be useful to the PRC in the future for educational outreach and fundraising.
Votes can be cast at www.truehero.org/projects/index.cfm?id=734, and they are not counted unless the voter opens the e-mail confirmation received after voting.