Eighth-grader takes to video to explain ‘What’s Up, Whitby’
GREENWICH - Kaitlyn Sandoval-Diaz is not one to seek out the spotlight.
But what this eighth-grader does behind the scenes at Whitby School in Greenwich is making a big impact with her schoolmates, the greater community and the world beyond.
“Actions speak louder than words sometimes,” said Phil Lohmeyer, the school’s design teacher and student activities coordinator. “Kaitlyn tends to focus on, ‘What can I do that would make a difference?’”
In October, Sandoval-Diaz and her fellow “Rookie Wookies” club members hosted a “Star Wars”-themed Force for Change fundraiser to benefit UNICEF Kid Power, a program through which kids complete physical activities to earn points that translate into therapeutic foods for malnourished children around the world.
The student group raised more than $1,900 through the event, which Sandoval-Diaz promoted and reported through her popular video series “What’s Up Whitby,” which she produces each month at the private international baccalaureate school in the backcountry. Her goal is to help connect the Whitby community through brief and breezy reports on sports, Spirit Week and other happenings at the school.
“I don’t really like to be on camera much,” the 14-year-old said. “I like interacting with other people.”
In addition to guiding the video on the project, the Stamford resident makes stop-motion animation and uses other techniques she has mastered in design class to add a dash of creativity to her final products.
The videos are distributed on YouTube and have been shared at school assemblies. Her work demonstrates skills not usually developed until high school or college, Lohmeyer said.
“It’s really impressive,” he said. “She’s really acted as a role model.”
Sandoval-Diaz also volunteered for a recent movie night at the school and created a short film to encourage fellow students to bring in toys to support the Rookie Wookies event. She was involved in the first Rookie Wookies fundraiser at the school in 2016, Lohmeyer said.
“Ever since our first ‘Star Wars’ event in 2016, we have been trying to host another one,” Sandoval-Diaz said. “After two years, ‘The Rookie Wookies’ are finally back! It’s especially great that all proceeds go to UNICEF Kid Power.”