D203 Students Earn Trip to White House as Finalists in Film Festival

Students from Mill Street and Highlands School and their art teachers will head to Washington, D.C. on Feb. 28 for the festival.

A video created by students at Highlands and Mill Street Schools is a finalist in the first-ever White House Student Film Festival.

A team of students from Mill Street and Highlands School and their art teachers Kyle Wood (Highlands) and Chuck Hoff (Mill) will travel to Washington D.C. for the festival held Feb. 28 at the White House.

Attending the Film Festival are students Reyah Doshi and Garrett Dahn from Mill Street and Sarah Matus, Emily Villazon and Jesse Barney from Highlands along with the two teachers.

“I was exceptionally proud of the students who worked hard to create this film,” Hoff said of the news release. ”The students delivered a perfect message of what art looks like when we do it as a team,” he said. 

Highlands fourth-grade student Sarah Matus proposed entering the White House Student Film Festival. The Festival is showcasing videos that illustrate how technology is integrated in classrooms today and how technology can be used in education in the future. More than 2,500 videos were submitted.

For the video, Highlands and Mill Street students, who had never met in person, created a video dramatization of a pilot program that the two teachers developed last spring. 

The pilot program involved pairing students between the two schools and using new technology. About 50 student volunteers, 1st-5th grades, participated in this project before school, during recess and some class time. 

“While the video showed students pretending to send projects back and forth, they were in reality developing new ways of working together as we shot video,” said Wood.  

In just two weeks, the students planned the video, created props, acted everything out, animated backgrounds, composed a soundtrack from a mix of loops and live recording of their own drumming, which they put it all together in a video. 

“It demonstrated great technical mastery of the medium while conveying a clear message,” said Hoff.

The project was presented at the Naperville District 203 Board of Education meeting Tuesday. The video can be viewed above. 



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