Keene High School graduate Jennifer Smalley’s name will soon scroll across movie screens in Maine.

The Marlborough native was the lead producer of the short film “The Most Precious Thing,” which will be featured in the Maine Mayhem Film Festival this month.

Smalley graduated from Keene High in 2017 and went on to attend Southern Maine Community College in South Portland, where she studies communications and new media with a focus in film production. The department puts on the film festival annually to highlight films made by seniors in the program.

Written and directed by Smalley’s classmate T.J. Hunter, “The Most Precious Thing” centers on fictional millionaire Dennis Ross. When Ross’ son steals the key to a safe that protects his “most precious thing,” Ross goes to great lengths to retrieve it, offering two men $1 million to track the key down. What he doesn’t know is that his maid, Nova, has overheard the conversation and is after the money herself.

As a producer, Smalley wore many hats working on the 20-minute-long film, she said, from script supervisor to editor to art director.

“I enjoyed every part. I learned that I like to organize things a lot, so I was really excited to go onto the set every day,” Smalley said.

She first became interested in pursuing film during high school, when she decided to take television production courses at the Cheshire Career Center, she said.

“I was looking for a creative outlet that I thought I could find a decent job in,” she said.

Through the classes, she learned a lot about producing live television, and was able to use those skills in her course of study at Southern Maine Community College.

“I never would have thought of going as far away as I did for a major,” she said. “The Cheshire Career Center is amazing for that, because I went into my senior year not really knowing what I wanted to do, and then I just latched onto (production) and finished all the classes in one year, I liked it so much.”

After graduating this year, Smalley hopes to find a job or internship working for a news station or reality television show, she said. She credits her time at Southern Maine Community College with helping her prepare for working in the industry.

“We’re pretty much set and ready to go out into the professional world,” she said.

“The Most Precious Thing” will premiere May 9 at Nickelodeon Cinema in Portland, with an additional showing scheduled for May 14 at the Frontier Theater in Brunswick, Maine.

Brattleboro High student raises money for kids’ education

Iva Armour-Jones, a sophomore at Brattleboro Union High School, recently raised $1,500 through GoFundMe to help six children in Tanzania attend school at MELOC Academy in Longido.

The 16-year-old was inspired by her experience living with a host family in the village during a two-week trip to the country in 2018 with Gogi Abroad. Each summer, the Putney, Vt.-based company leads a service learning trip there for high school and gap year students.

During her visit, which included working at the school, eating meals with the community, and attending a day-long hike and weekend safari, Iva said she fell in love with the people. The idea to raise funds for students to attend school was sparked when she was watching a football game with her family and saw a commercial about providing clean water in Tanzania, she said.

Tuition for the school is $300 per student for the year, which many families can’t afford.

“I think for me, as someone who loves school so much and has always cared so much about my education and has always been so serious, it was going to be something to do with education,” Iva said in a news release. “It feeds so many other things: keeping kids out of marriages, getting them food and water.”

Rotary Club offers interest-free college loans

Applications are open for the Rotary Club of Keene’s annual interest-free college loan program. Full-time college juniors and seniors who graduated from Keene High School, Monadnock Regional High School or the former Monadnock Waldorf High School are eligible for the loans.

The Rotary Club hopes to award up to $15,000 in loans, with the maximum individual loan amount at $2,500. The loans can be used for tuition, fees, books and related expenses in the 2019-20 academic year. They are to be repaid without interest over the four years immediately following the student’s graduation.

Applicants will be evaluated based on financial need and academic achievement, and each loan will require two individual guarantors. Applications are due by June 15. Information: info@keenerotary.org.

What’s going on in your school? Education reporter Meg McIntyre can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1404, or mmcintyre@keenesentinel.com.