A video created by students at Naperville's Highlands and Mill Street elementary schools is a finalist in the inaugural White House Student Film Festival.
A team of students from Mill Street and Highlands and their art teachers, Kyle Wood (Highlands) and Chuck Hoff (Mill), will travel to Washington, D.C., for the festival Feb. 28 at the White House.
Attending the festival along with the teachers are students Reyah Doshi and Garrett Dahn from Mill Street, and Sarah Matus, Emily Villazon and Jesse Barney from Highlands.
"I was exceptionally proud of the students who worked hard to create this film," said Hoff. "The students delivered a perfect message of what art looks like when we do it as a team."
Highlands fourth-grader Sarah Matus proposed entering the festival, which is showcasing videos that illustrate how technology is integrated in today's classrooms and how it can be used in education in the future. More than 2,500 videos were submitted.
For their project, the 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 program involved pairing students between the two schools and using new technology.
Roughly 50 student volunteers in first through fifth grades participated in the project before school, during recess and during 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," Wood said.
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, and put it all together in a video.
"It demonstrated great technical mastery of the medium while conveying a clear message," Hoff said.