Irvine students take first, second in national video contest

Woodbridge High School students Dan Lesser, Ken Nakama and Josh Maslaki won first place in a national video contest to promote hearing safety.
(Courtesy of Starkey Hearing Foundation)

A team of three students from Woodbridge High School in Irvine won first place, and a team from Crean Lutheran, a private school also in Irvine, took second in a prestigious national public-service video contest promoting hearing safety among teenagers.

The Listen Carefully campaign, which seeks to raise awareness about noise-induced hearing loss, is sponsored by the Starkey Hearing Foundation, a Minnesota based nonprofit that distributes hearing aids to the needy around the world

In addition to Go-Pro Hero3+ cameras for the winners, popular Interscope recording artist Aloe Blacc will perform a private concert at Woodbridge this spring. The accomplished rap/soul singer and musician grew up in Orange County and graduated from Laguna Hills High School.

Woodbridge seniors Ken Nakama and Dan Lesser and junior Josh Maslaki won the contest with their 30-second public-service announcement titled “Protect Your Ears.” The slick production, with slow camera movements and close-up cutaways, shows two students sitting in a library, one rocking to music through headphones. The scene leads to a warning about loud noises and hearing-loss prevention.


“I couldn’t really believe it,” said Nakama, the director, recounting the day earlier this month when he read the email notifying him they’d won the contest. “I had to read it again, then check to see if it was true.”

“I’m not surprised with these kids. They’re really top notch,” said David Baker, the teacher of advanced video production at Woodbridge. He said his students previously won an entry in the Orange County Film Festival.

“They’re a really good bunch,” Baker said. “I’m really happy for them, but I’m not completely shocked that they won something.”

The three seniors at Crean Lutheran — Jenny Kim, Matthew Orgil and Tyler Koski — earned first runner-up honors for their entry, “The Meaning of Sound.” The quick-edit montage with sharp audio cuts and limited voice-over offers a distinction when talking about sound, music and noise with the message “It’s your choice.”


“It’s really cool to place second in a contest like this with entries from all across the country,” Orgil said. The Crean Lutheran students also receive GoPro cameras as does the second runner-up team, from Panama City, Fla.

Both runner-up teams are also invited as VIP guests to the Aloe Blacc performance at Woodbridge.

Asked if winning the contest and earning the concert for the school has elevated their popularity on campus, Lesser said, “Yeah, I’ve had a few people come up and say thanks. I think the kids around here are pretty excited about it.”

The date for Blacc’s performance at Woodbridge is yet to be determined as organizers coordinate with his recording and concert schedule.