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The video about the Cheektowaga stone quarry began as a normal school assignment for Cheektowaga Central seniors Rachel Gabryszak and Mandi Viles.

Then they started researching Buffalo Crushed Stone's request to expand mining at its quarry off Como Park Boulevard. They've toured the quarry, talked to neighbors and even went to a meeting of a town committee studying the proposal.

"It started out as a project and turned into a movement," Rachel said.

Becoming involved in the subject could be considered part of the syllabus of Jim Cercone's Cultural and Media Studies class at Cheektowaga Central High School.

"I see it as a vehicle to make education more active. Digital video production mirrors the writing process," Cercone said. "Over the year, I encourage them to pursue their interests."

Both teens enjoy producing digital videos, and took a similar class last year. Mandi will go to Rochester Institute of Technology this fall for information technology, working with Internet-based and digital media. Rachel will major in social work at Plattsburgh State University.

Mandi made a video last year on diversity that is being used in the school's diversity education program.

"It's a lot of work to do videos," she said. "Every time I made a video, it got a little better. I have a passion for it."

They've been working on the Buffalo Crushed Stone video for about a month, and have most of the camera work done. Now the work is centered in the classroom around the computer, where they are writing, editing, and adding music and graphics.

They also have to mesh their different styles and approaches to the job.

"We agree on a lot of stuff," Mandi said.

Both have become interested in the quarry and the effect it has on the community. Rachel lives near the quarry, but never paid much attention to it.

"I never knew there was such a big deal going on," she said.

Rachel's uncle is town Supervisor Dennis H. Gabryszak. She said she has not spoken to him about the project, although the students want town officials to see the video.

"We're hoping to take it to the Town Board. Hopefully it will make a difference," Mandi said.

The quarry is seeking to mine an additional 39 acres inside its boundaries, which it says would extend its life by 20 years. Some residents oppose the proposal, which includes moving the rock crushing and asphalt facilities.


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