TOPSHAM — Mt. Ararat High School students may soon have a chance to follow their dreams with the help of MTV.
The producers of “Made,” a popular reality show geared toward helping youths between the ages of 15 and 21 improve themselves and reach their goals, have expressed interest in auditioning students this spring at Mt. Ararat and other New England high schools.
The School Administrative District 75 Board of Directors on May 14 authorized Superintendent Mike Wilhelm and his administration to sign a one-year contract with the show, with a provision that changes and protections recommended by the district’s legal counsel be incorporated into that contract.
The contract allows “Made” to go onto district property and audition Mt. Ararat students and, if the show chooses a Mt. Ararat student, use the school for production purposes.
SAD 75 attorney Peter Lowe suggested the contract include protections against show footage being used in any way that would be obscene or unacceptable, Wilhelm said. “He would expect that this piece, as an intellectual property, would have all the parental permissions that we would expect of any kind of programming that we would do for kids in school,” the superintendent explained.
Another of Lowe’s recommendations was that the district be protected against any kind of damage done to its property by the “Made” crew, and that the show would provide sufficient insurance for its crew members, so that the district would not be liable.
“I’m supportive of the idea; I’m excited about it, and I think the kids will be excited by it,” said board member Bob Hill. “I think it’s a great opportunity for our kids. But I’m not so sure that I’m ready to vote for something until I have the contract in front of me.”
While Hill suggested tabling the matter until the board has a final contract in hand, Wilhelm said MTV needs an answer by May 26. The board’s next meeting is scheduled for May 28.
Board member Kim Totten said that as long as Lowe, Wilhelm and Mt. Ararat High Principal Craig King support the contract’s final language, “I feel comfortable giving my approval for this, for them to work out whatever language they need to, to protect our property and the kids at the school.”
Lisa Rogers, a student representative to the board, called the show “a great motivational tool.”
The board voted 13-1 in favor of the proposal. Member Claudia Beckwith said she wanted more information and cast the dissenting vote.
While Wilhelm admitted he had never seen the show, he said that “I’m assured by the high school administration that this is really positive programming. It’s about kids who take the next extraordinary step, and it follows the process for those kids.”
The aspiration a student chooses can run the gamut – athletics, the arts, academia – as long as it’s something specific that an expert can help a student attain during a five-month period. The producers find a local mentor to direct the goal-reaching process.
“It has to be something that the student has to reach for,” King said. “For example, they want to climb Mt. Katahdin but they’ve never climbed a mountain before. They want to act on stage, but they’ve never ever acted before.”
“Made” is no stranger to the Mid-Coast. A few years ago the show featured Morse High School student Jackie Buck, whose goal was to gain enough confidence to perform a dance act during the Bath school’s annual variety show.
Mt. Ararat High Assistant Principal Don Gray said the “Made” crew will be in New England auditioning students between May 26 and June 5. Producers will interview students during lunch periods and study halls.
“I think it’s going to be absolutely wonderful for Mt. Ararat,” said board Chairwoman Dee Carrier. “I think it’s something that the student body will be absolutely thrilled with, let alone the community.”
Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or firstname.lastname@example.org.