By Kathy Brown
Gillette News Record
Via Wyoming News Exchange
GILLETTE — It was the tale of Captain Camel that ultimately led Zach Milliron to become the Campbell County High School mascot in a 30-minute video scripted by teacher Renee Fritzen.
It was at Zach’s urging that his best friend, Ethen Wolf, sacrificed his body in the name of art as he forced himself to run headfirst into lockers at the school during weeks of filming.
Still, it was all for a good cause. The two are among about 100 students and teachers at Campbell County High School who were involved in a red carpet premiere showing of the video Tuesday.
The video and scripts for “The Adventures of Captain Camel” were the brainchild of Fritzen, a CCHS Spanish teacher, who wanted to do something to support the school’s Positive Behavior Intervention Supports initiative, dubbed PBIS.
It’s a Campbell County School District program built on the basis that students need support for what they do right, not always negative discipline for what they do wrong.
It’s an umbrella of behavior supports that are unique to each school that also reflect the culture of the school. It’s year two of the program at CCHS and administrators said they’re already seeing a positive impact.
At CCHS, the episode involving Captain Camel, a masked hero, “will be portrayed out of respect, pride and love,” Fritzen wrote about the project. “It will reflect that everyone has lives and pressures, but that staff and faculty genuinely care about our students here at CCHS, and students, too, care about one another.”
That’s felt in the project produced by what is loosely called “Camel Comics.”
Fritzen said she felt inspired to write the script based on an incident that happened in her classroom this year.
Milliron, an 18-year-old senior, was willing to become Captain Camel for Fritzen, who is one of his favorite teachers.
Fritzen told Milliron about Captain Camel a year ago. Over the summer, he found a Camel T-shirt that mirrored his image of Captain Camel and gave it to her.
In return, she gave him the part of the hero in the adventure video.
He, in turn, shared the wealth — or the burden, depending on how you look on it.
“He brought me in on it,” Wolf said.
Also joining the project were Alan Robles and Ashton Johnson, who mixed, produced and performed some of the rap music in the video, along with talented student musician and singer Ethan Evert.
Helping to put it all together was Kaden Redinger, who filmed and edited the video over the past month. It was his idea to have a “Red Carpet” viewing at CCHS before the video is shown in advocacy classes to all students.
The Red Carpet extravaganza included paparazzi and was broadcast on the Camel TV Facebook page and YouTube.
It’s all a salute and promotion to the PBIS rules at CCHS for student behavior in the halls and in classrooms, which involves the use of cellphones and wearing hats in school, among other things.
Milliron didn’t exactly know what he’d gotten himself into, but quickly learned.
He also managed to bring other kids into it, like his varsity basketball boys team at CCHS who are involved in a scene in the locker room at halftime of their game against rival Sheridan Broncs.
The Camels are losing by 10 points, the Broncs have 11 players who are at least 6 feet tall and coach Bubba Hladky begins to talk about the advantages Sheridan has, including each player having a personal masseuse.
Every Bronc has his own personal nutritionist for pre- and post-training meals, drinks protein shakes like water and downs three raw eggs at halftime, the coach adds.
But “it doesn’t matter,” he said.
“Because win or lose, we have CAMEL PRIDE!” Milliron tells the team.
At that point Humphrey the Camel, portrayed by Wolf, appoints him a Camel with Character and gives him the power of Captain Camel.
While that’s one of their favorite scenes and drew laughs as they watched the scene on Redinger’s video screen, it’s also a bit hokey.
So is the scene in the hallway where math teacher Dan Hays pulls a hat off an unsuspecting student’s head with his “hat grabber” with the two students peeking around a corner to watch.
What’s more disturbing is that the hat grabber and Hays’ removal of hats is a real thing that happens in school.
Milliron ends his transformation into Captain Camel by pointing out that Camel Pride means showing respect, perseverance, integrity, honesty, loyalty, respectfulness, responsibility, humility and compassion. It may be a comical version of it, but it’s his main message and it comes through in the video.
“I’m excited,” Milliron said, adding he modified his speech from the original script written by Fritzen, as did Hladky and Principal Chad Bourgeois. “It will be a good event.”
“It will be a very good program,” Robles added. “It will have a positive vibe.”
At first, there was a lot of kidding around and having fun, “then it became something more serious,” Robles said.
“It’s definitely a good mix,” Johnson said. “It’s definitely a fun time.”
The actors missed a day of classes with rehearsals and filming the climatic scene in the auditorium. That was the day they all agreed they enjoyed most on the project.
It also was a difficult day and grew more difficult as the day drew on because it was so hot in costumes under those lights, Milliron and Wolf said. And you can only rehearse something over and over so many times before it gets to be too much.
But all of them liked making the video and know they will remember it for a long time.
“I think it will be a big surprise,” Johnson said.
“It gets the word out. It’s better than the lip dub (another video produced annually by CCHS students),” he said. “It’s much better. It’s a direct message (about) positive role models.”
He added that he was surprised by his reaction to the whole project.
“I really liked it. It has a positive message,” he said.
And the Red Carpet event?
They couldn’t wait.
“It’s just perfect,” Johnson said. “We’ll be greeting the final product.”
Milliron said he likes what Captain Camel stands for.
And except for a few bruises, Wolf also enjoyed being Humphrey the Camel.
“It’s been great. I’ve made a lot of new friends,” Milliron said.
The pain of the costume — just getting in and out of it — is something he won’t miss, the senior added. “But hopefully it looks cool.”
Redinger showed the cast some of his early editing work Friday. What he hadn’t told them is that he may include a blooper reel with the video as well.
Watching that brought about many laughs, giggles and memories for them all. It should be something the Camels will have fun sharing for all the most positive reasons.