Nandita Vegesna, 11th Grade
Within a few short months, 2017 has already become a year of politics. So when the junior class was presented with an assignment that allowed them to send a meaningful message to our new congressmen and the president about issues they are passionate about, our students did not shy away.
Every year, our juniors compete in the StudentCam contest run by C-SPAN, where they are given the task of making a video about any message they wanted to send to Washington. The five months that followed the announcement were challenging to say the least. Students had to find a way to contact busy professionals, interview them, shoot B-roll, in addition to their IB schoolwork. Yet when choosing their topics for their documentary most of students didn’t avoid the harder, more complicated, even controversial topics- instead they dove right into them. Pollution, welfare, the national grid, federal loans and aid were just a select few of the topics chosen.
However, the hard work paid off. A few weeks ago the winner of this year’s Student Cam contest were announced. Imagine didn’t have one winner, or two, or three. This year our class of 2018 pulled through with FOUR awards: 2 honorable mentions and 2 third prize winners. Not only making this the third year our school has placed in the competition, but the FIRST year we have won more than one award. Anne Presley, Imagine’s AP government and history teacher, who introduced the competition to our school, stated herself that “winning four awards in just our school is absolutely amazing”. Mrs. Presley wasn’t the only one to congratulate our winners, in a special assembly representatives for US Congressman Sam Johnson, Texas Governor Greg Abbott, and Texas Congressman Scott Sanford, Mayor Brian Loughmiller, McKinney Councilman Rainey Rogers, and representatives from C-SPAN and Spectrum were all in attendance. The reason the amount of winners is especially incredible is because of the 2,903 videos that were submitted, only 150 of those were acknowledged. Our winners all say the C-SPAN contest definitely gave them a new perspective after spending months digging into their respective issues, as well as some extra cash, with the groups collecting a total of 2000 dollars.
The videos that won third place were Jazmon Malone, Ananya Ponangi, and Kayla Allen’s “ Federal Student Loans” and Kyra Page, Uma Reddy, and Nandita Vegesna’s “ Our Message to Washington : Euthanasia”. Our honorable mentions included Shayden Smith, Tatiana Laporte, and Siani Ellis’s “Protecting the Integrity of American Aid” and Maxim Jelton, Asha Christensen, and Bella Colandrea’s “Securing the U.S Power Grid”. When asked about how she felt about the overall experience our honorable mention winner Tatiana Laporte said that she felt “It was great learning experience. I loved being able to learn about an issue that I didn’t know that much about before. I absolutely loved this year’s theme and being able to voice my opinions to congress! As for being hard, I had an awesome group who made it fun, so we had a great time”. To Tatiana making the most of the experience really helped her group achieve such an award, and it is something she wholeheartedly recommends to the upcoming juniors. Uma Reddy and Kyra Page, our third place winners had similar sentiment saying that, “The C-SPAN Student Cam project allowed me to face problems that are relevant to today’s society… I am so glad that I was able to actively engage in a topic that is relevant to our government and its people!” and how “Making the C-SPAN video was really fun. My group chose an issue that we all were interested in for different reasons and have concrete opinions. My opinions were more liberal compared to my other group mates but somehow, I hijacked the project by getting a lot of liberal-leaning doctor interviews”
I found it interesting that all these students put a lot of thought into making a video about complex issues, but not how they were going to spend their money if they would win! “I don’t know, I’ll probably end up spending the money on gas” Uma Reddy said, clearly stumped. While Tatiana Laporte remarked that it’s “definitely going into my college savings account”.
Though these winners made video production look easy, many of the groups said they had to completely redo and edit their project during winter break after getting feedback from our class. Students said even there final video could have always used more b-roll, or had better sound. The best advice they had for upcoming juniors was ” start as early as possible” as Ananya Ponangi commented. There are always improvements so there really isn’t anything as starting too early, the whole project is very time consuming.
But all groups came to the consensus that it was the standards of their AP Government teacher Ms. Presley that helped prepare them most for this competition. “What most kids don’t realize is while we have a rigorous program here, it pays off. You don’t learn about the government in such a detailed way as we do here where we literally inject our kids into the real world. You can’t get that anywhere else and our C-SPAN winners for the past three years are proof of that” says Anne Presley.
Well congratulation to our winners, and to the upcoming junior class we are expecting you guys to be bigger and better next year! We have a winning streak to maintain, so let’s keep it up dragons!!
For this years winning videos click the following link: