Teens make films about rail safety 

click to enlarge Passengers exits a Caltrain commuter train during the morning commute, on April 26, 2012 in San Francisco, California. - TONY AVELAR / THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR VIA GETTY IMAGES
  • Tony Avelar / The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images
  • Passengers exits a Caltrain commuter train during the morning commute, on April 26, 2012 in San Francisco, California.

A rail safety-themed film festival was held in Redwood City on Thursday in honor of a San Jose teen who died while trying to cross the tracks earlier this year.

This month is Rail Safety Month, and a group of 10 San Mateo County teenagers from the Redwood City-based digital arts program Fresh Takes compiled short "vignettes" focused on how to stay safe near railroad tracks.

The nine clips, which serve as public service announcements, later will be posted on the Caltrain YouTube channel.

The students, ages 13-17, were trained about rail safety, went on a tour of the Caltrain system, and filmed on location for the videos, Caltrain spokeswoman Jayme Ackemann said.

"We wanted to find a new way of reaching young people," Ackemann said. "We thought that the best way to speak to young people about rail safety was through young people — through their peers."

The death of Donae Johnican, 16, who was struck and killed by a train on March 19 while attempting to cross the tracks south of the Diridon station in San Jose, inspired the festival.

Johnican, who was a junior at Lincoln High School in San Jose, a performing arts school, was a singer and guitar player. His family described him as a musical prodigy.

The short films were written, directed, and produced by area teenagers as part of an "inaugural collaboration" between Fresh Takes an Caltrain, Ackemann said.

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