Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Hemingway Elementary wins again

Film by fifth-graders named finalist in eschool News contest

Express Staff Writer

Students Grace Gorham, left, and Tara Burchmore produced an original video that is a finalist in a major film contest.

Make no mistake: When it comes to making films, the students of Hemingway Elementary School have some serious skills, especially three recent Hemingway graduates, Grace Gorham, Tara Burchmore and Helene Hawes.

These three young filmmakers created an original video that was named a top three finalist in the elementary school category in the eSchool News Video contest.

eSchool News is a monthly print newspaper that covers technology and its influence on education. The contest asked students to make a short, five-minute film on how technology helps students learn.

The girls' video, which is fittingly called "How Technology Helps Us Learn," follows Gorham and Hawes through Hemingway where they demonstrate the different technologies that students use, from the computer lab to the science station to the library. Burchmore shot the film using wide-angle shooting, a technique that allows the filmmaker to stop and start the film multiple times without affecting the overall fluidity of the piece.

Using technology is the norm for students at the Ketchum school. Not only do they learn basic typing skills, they also play with robots and roamers, make a bi-monthly television show for Hemingway TV, also known as HTV, and put on a daily morning show complete with weather reports, sports announcements and, of course, the lunch menu.

Before coming to Hemingway, Scott Slonim, the technology teacher, taught in San Diego, Calif. "I've never seen anything like this," Slonim said. "The district here is incredible, as it has the budget and the wherewithal to do this. We're really lucky."

Despite the help of the school district's resources and Slonim, these girls still did just about everything on their own.

They came up with the script and learned the lines. They directed, filmed, and edited the video using imovie, a software program designed by Apple to create movies.

The girls were so dedicated to their project that they spent most lunch breaks and recesses working in the technology room. They even met for a few hours after school to complete the film. All in all, it took them about 15 hours of work to make the video.

"I'm so impressed with them because they were so self-motivated," said Grace's mother, Gretchen Gorham. "They were really behind the film right through the end, and it wasn't about winning."

Being a finalist in a film competition is nothing new for Hemingway students. Two years ago, Hemingway entered a number of films into the Panasonic Kid Witness News Video Contest. One Hemingway film won first place in the best fiction category, beating out more than 225 schools across the country.

What lies in the future for these young filmmakers is yet to be determined. Judges are currently deliberating over which film will be the winner in the contest. The winner will be announced in late August or early September.

For now, the girls are just waiting and hoping. If their film wins, they will taking a trip to Washington, D.C., to receive their award, mingle with U.S. senators and representatives and make a name for themselves. All before they even enter the sixth grade.

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