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Linda Thomas

Olympia student video was made for 'laughs'

A video showing Olympia High School students stumped by the most basic questions about politics, current events and geography was edited to make students laugh. It's not an accurate reflection of students' intelligence, according to the video creators.

AustinThe two students who shot the video now admit it was heavily edited to include only a few correct answers, with the majority being silly answers they thought would be entertaining.

Problem is, the video was picked up by national websites, including the Huffington Post, and it made the school look bad.

The video, shot at Olympia High School, features classmates struggling to answer basic civics questions.

Here's an example of a question and answer exchange. When classmates were asked to name the Vice President of the United States, some replies included, "George Bush," "The bald guy - Clinton, right?" and "I don't know, somebody - bin Laden."

The video appears to show how poor the education system is, but it doesn't reflect the reality at Olympia High. The school, with about 1,700 students, has high test scores. 92 percent of 10th graders passed the state reading test last year, 95 percent passed the writing test, and 72 percent passed science. Those test scores are on par with Bellevue High School and other high-achieving schools.

Olympia High School is in the top 5 percent of schools in the state. So why did the students in the video look so dumb? Many didn't even know Olympia was the capital.

Olympia High School juniors Austin Oberbillig and Evan Ricks say they edited the video to get laughs around the school, and some students were trying to be funny by coming up with absurd answers.

They said in a statement, the video is not a fair representation of the student body:

"The video that we made as a school project has received a lot of unexpected media attention, and has been co-opted into an ongoing political debate that has become quite volatile. It should be known that we filmed for several hours, during which time many students gave correct responses; the film represents a short segment of the most entertaining answers. The bottom line is that we made the video to get a few laughs around our school, and it turned into something bigger. It was not our intent to polarize people, set off a firestorm, or get people to point fingers. Having said that, people will take from it what they will. We want to continue our work as student journalists in a productive manner."

The "Lunch Scholars" video has had more than half a million views on YouTube.

Photo: Screen grab of student Austin Oberbillig, who says he's learned a lesson from this experience.

By Linda Thomas

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About Linda
Linda is the morning news anchor and features reporter for KIRO Radio. This is her local news blog, with an emphasis on social media, technology, Northwest companies, education, parenting, and anything else that grabs her attention.

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