Will Morrison and Ariella Lewis, eighth-graders at The Davis Academy in Sandy Springs, have placed in C-SPAN StudentCam, a national documentary competition, and one will have his film shown on the news channel.
Students across the globe were challenged to participate in the competition, where they were asked to create a five- to six-minute video exploring a topic they most want the president and Congress to address in 2021.
According to a news release, more than 2,300 students from 43 states and Washington, plus Singapore and Pakistan, submitted entries. Will placed second in the middle school category for his documentary, “The Missing Piece For Autism,’’ which will air April 5 on C-SPAN. Ariella received honorable mention for her film “Equality and Protection for All: Laws and the LGBTQ+ Community.”
Both students were the only winners in Georgia. They were coached by Kendrick Phillips, Davis’ director of visual and performing arts, who also won a faculty advisory award. Out of the thousands of entries, only 53 faculty advisors were honored.
Davis film students have participated in this competition for the last 10 years and have been recognized 13 times, winning first, second, third and several honorable mentions.
“We are committed to developing and nurturing each child’s passions and unique voice on and off the stage,” Phillips said in the release. “We encourage students to become big picture thinkers, champions of creative play, innovators, and collaborative communicators.”
In his video, Will, whose older brother Chase has autism, said, “While many people with autism could be lacking in some areas, they can do amazing (things) in others. … Unfortunately, there is no shortage of problems in the autism community that haven’t been addressed enough in Congress and by the president.”
In her video, Ariella, a non-binary queer youth, said, “I feel that Congress needs to address the issue of LGBTQ+ rights because every day, LGBTQ+ people are discriminated against in their daily life, in their healthcare and in their work.”
Normally the school honors the winners in an official ceremony on campus. C-SPAN brings their officials and a C-SPAN bus, while the school coordinates to have U.S. senators and representatives and other Georgia officials join in the celebration. In previous years, governors have sent commendation certificates to the winners.
But this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ceremony will be virtual, and Phillips is contacting different government officials, in addition to all who appeared in the videos. The date of the virtual ceremony has not been announced yet.