Red Carpet Rolled Out for Student Filmmakers

KidsMatter rolled out the red carpet in a Hollywood-style premiere for their “Your Digital Footprint Matters” contest.

Over 200 students submitted 72 videos to the contest – all with a message surrounding digital safety and cyber bullying.

“Tonight we’re featuring young people that have chosen to be upstanders, not bystanders, but upstanders. They are saying ‘I am choosing not be a victim of bullying, I will not bully, and I will not stand by, I want to make a difference,’” said Idalynn Wenhold, Executive Director of KidsMatter.

To complete the red carpet feeling, the young filmmakers got to take their pictures with Mayor Chirico, introduced themselves onstage, and the 16 finalist videos were premiered in full to an audience of friends, family, and Naperville school district staff.

“These are the kinds of things we’re working on with students everyday in our classroom, in terms of using digital tools to tell a story or persuade someone,” said Karen Sullivan, Superintendent of District 204

“I think it gives kids a choice to an opportunity to make something that’s real authentic and meaningful to them, using a medium that they are comfortable with, the digital world,” said Dan Bridges, Superintendent of District 203. “It’s something I think is very personal, and when it’s personal and has meaning to them, they get really excited about it.”

After the films were screened, audience members voted for their favorite three. One winner from each the elementary, junior high, and high school levels were given $200, and the film with the most overall votes earned a $500 grant for their school’s technology department.

The winning video was The Ripple Effect, by Naperville Central sophomores Sam Wichhart and Daniel Keeling.

After coming in second place in last year’s contest, Keeling and Wichhart wanted to come back strong and win this year, and they did this by taking a different approach, with impressive effects and a positive vibe.

“Through the last contest it was all extremely sad in a lot of videos, cause it’s not a very happy issue,” said Wichhart. “We didn’t want to lighten the issue at all, cause it isn’t a happy issue, but we wanted to show a happier way how you portray it.”

“I was really just trying a lot of joy, and fun in my movements. I’ve been dancing for a while, and dancing can get happiness coming out of a person. I just tried to feel like I was sending happiness to everyone and I wanted to make people spread that ripple effect themselves,” said Keeling.

It was a night in the limelight for these student filmmakers.

The winners at the elementary school level were Sam McBroom and Tyler Martin for Video Game Player, and the junior high school winner was Charlie Nguyen for Cyber Socks.

Naperville News 17’s Blane Erwin reports

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