Hed: Making the news

Sub: C-SPAN recognizes student contest award winners

By NURIA MATHOG

When eighth-grade friends Arundathi Nair and Sam Miller first decided to enter a documentary contest, they never imagined their finished film would one day bring a Washington, D.C., cable network to their school doors.

In March, the students won an honorable mention award and $250 in the 2016 C-SPAN StudentCam competition, an annual contest for students in grades 6-12. This year, 2,887 student entries were submitted to the competition; Arundathi and Sam’s film was one of just 97 documentaries to earn an honorable mention.

At a special awards ceremony at Laramie Junior High School on Tuesday afternoon, Arundathi and Sam received certificates from C-SPAN and the Albany County District No. 1 Board of Education, as well as applications to join the Laramie Youth Council. Laramie Mayor Dave Paulekas also read aloud a proclamation recognizing Arundathi and Sam’s work.

“I watched that video and I was so, so impressed with not only the content of that video but the way it was produced,” he said. “It was truly impressive.”

Afterward, the students and their families were invited on a brief tour of the C-SPAN bus, a vehicle equipped with multimedia and touch screen functions that travels to political functions and schools across the country.

C-SPAN marketing representative La’Shawna Saint-Preux said the bus is taking a brief break from election coverage to visit the StudentCam competition winners; the team will continue on to Rapid City, South Dakota, and Sioux Falls, South Dakota, before ending the week in Minnesota. Several presidential contenders have been interviewed on the bus, she said — the most recent candidate was Ben Carson.

“I like to call this a very large commercial,” Saint-Preux said. “We’re on the road 10 months out of the year with this bus.”

The students’ documentary, “Access to Affordable Education is the Investment for the Future,” focuses on the role and cost of a college education and features interviews with Gov. Matt Mead, University of Wyoming professors and teachers. It can be viewed online at www.studentcam.org/winners16.htm.

Scott Miller, Sam’s father, said he was proud of his son’s accomplishment.

“He and Aru really were the sole drivers of this,” he said. “We were happy bystanders to watch them work so hard and pull it together.”

Arundathi and Sam plan to enter the StudentCam contest again in 2017, but they’ll have to wait until the contest theme is released to select a new topic. The 2016 competition asked contestants to choose a subject they thought the presidential candidates should address during the election; the students considered several topics before settling on higher education.

“Probably we would try to choose something about current events that’s happening at the time,” Arundathi said.

Both students agreed getting to go on the bus was “really cool.”

“I’ve never seen anything like it before,” Sam said. “It was surprisingly large.”

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