As a senior at Mattituck Jr./Sr. High School, with aspirations to major in marketing and business analytics in college, Taylor Montgomery is proving that she is part of the next generation of change.
Her effective use of film to shine an unflinching light on student-related issues that are often glossed over has gained Montgomery recognition as a Long Island scholar-artist, one of only 40 high school students honored this year. Inspired by the controversial Netflix show about teen suicide “13 Reasons Why,” she successfully created a music video with fellow classmates Payton Maddaloni, Josh Starzee, and Billy Hickox during her sophomore year addressing that issue.
“I use film to effectively express my messages across to viewers in a way they can relate to while emphasizing key issues,” Montgomery said. “I chose to raise awareness about suicide prevention from witnessing peers and other teenagers on social media who may have been struggling with mental illness. I knew I had to do something to help these students, as well as letting them know that there are many sources that are available to provide them with aid.”
Filmed across the school and community, Montgomery’s film was showcased at the Long Island 72-Hour Film Festival at Five Towns College, and then received recognition from the Suffolk County Department of Health, which used the video as suicide prevention training in high schools, becoming a full-fledged public service announcement. The film thus became a turning point in Montgomery’s life. She now participates in suicide prevention training programs and walks across all of Long Island, and plans to continue advocating for the cause.
Montgomery is a student making strong headway as a voice for change. She is the vice president of Mattituck’s Distributive Education Club of America, part of Students Against Destructive Decisions, and treasurer of the Future Farmers of America Club. Additionally, she is currently in the works on a project regarding social media’s impact on teenage mental health with Andrea Nydegger, the school’s social worker.
“I have always loved to help others in my community and have been actively volunteering at various local homeless shelters for over a decade,” Montgomery continued. “I would like to one day start a non-profit organization as well as continue to volunteer in my community, and look forward to continuing to spread awareness of important issues related to mental health, environmental concerns, and helping others in my community.”