C-SPAN StudentCam competition winners announced

Thomas Birmingham, in-depth editor

The winners of the 2018 C-SPAN StudentCam competition were announced March 7. The list of 150 students winners from 46 states around the country includes six KHS juniors: Fraye Beyene, Kenan Dogan, Matt Johnson, Sarah Nash, Jack Rintoul and Lizzie Stobbe.

StudentCam is an annual competition in which students are challenged to create a 5-7 minute documentary on a topic after being given a prompt. This year’s prompt was “The Constitution & You: Choose a provision of the U.S. Constitution and create a video illustrating why it’s important to you.” Cash prizes totaling $100,000 were distributed to the winners, who range from middle school to 12th grade. Fifty-three teacher advisors from across the country were also recognized for their students’ achievement, including KHS AP Language and Composition teachers Janet DePasquale and Katie Meyers.

At KHS, the StudentCam documentary competition is made into a multi-month project students work on from the end of November to mid-January for juniors in AP Language and Composition. The project consists of students coming up with a topic, interviewing, filming, producing and editing their footage before submitting it to the StudentCam judges, who took a month long viewing period to carefully analyze each of the 2,985 films submitted. Fraye Beyene, junior, was recognized in the honorable mention category, and said he spent over 20 hours working on the project, including during most of winter break. He said that he was honored to have been chosen and thought the experience as a whole was very rewarding.

“I was surprised, to be honest,” Beyene said. “It’s nice to have all that hard work you put in validated in that way. But even without winning the prize I thought the whole contest was a really good learning experience for me. It was a nice journey.”

The 150 chosen winners were broken up into one overall grand prize winner receiving $5,000, four first prize winners receiving $3,000 each, 16 second prize winners receiving $1,500 each, 32 third prize winners receiving $750 each and 97 honorable mention winners receiving $250 each. The six KHS student winners took home the following prizes:

Jack Rintoul: Third Prize winner for his film about the importance of the First Amendment for student journalists, as well as a discussion of the Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier Supreme Court decision.

Sarah Nash: “Behind the Scenes” photo competition winner for a shot taken while producing her video, which comes with a $100 prize.

Fraye Beyene: Honorable Mention winner for his film about utilizing compulsory voting to negate the effect of Voter ID laws.

Kenan Dogan: Honorable Mention winner for his film about the complexities and problems with Affirmative Action in the college admission process.

Matt Johnson: Honorable Mention winner for his film about the Fourth Amendment search and seizure as it relates to cell phone usage.

Lizzie Stobbe: Honorable Mention winner for her film about the largely unknown conditions in America’s prisons in relation to the eighth amendment.

Beyene said the experience of doing this project has been both eye-opening and inspiring. While there were many takeaways from the assignment, he said that it most of all has helped him to better understand that each person has the ability to make change within their community.

“If you want to see change in a community, you can really go out and achieve that change,” Beyene said. “You just have to go out there and talk to the right people. And that is what this project has taught me.”