FHS Filmmakers Take Second Place Prize In C-SPAN StudentCam Competition

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Lauren Higginbotham and Sophie Foley, students at Fishers High School, were recently named as second prize winners in the annual C-SPAN StudentCam Competition for their documentary “Students Ruin The First Amendment.” For the prize, their documentary, which was chosen as one of the top finishers out of several thousand student submissions nationwide, aired on C-SPAN on April 7. The students also received a cash prize of $1,500.

Each year, middle and high school students across the country are invited to submit short documentaries addressing a topic relevant to American culture or society as part of C-SPAN’s annual StudentCam Competition, where a panel of judges comprised of educators and C-Span representatives determine the top finishers who then have their documentaries aired on C-SPAN. The competition has been held annually since 2006, and this year’s submissions centered around the given prompt “What does it mean to be American? Choose a constitutional right, national characteristic or historic event and explain how it defines the American experience,” with documentaries covering topics such as Constitutional Amendment rights, social equality and immigration, to name a few.

While the competition garners thousands of submissions every year, this particular year featured a record number of both students participating and videos submitted, with 6,318 students from 48 states collaborating to create close to 3,000 documentaries that covered a broad range of subjects.

“Over the last 15 years, we’ve had the privilege of hearing viewpoints on a wide variety of issues directly from young filmmakers across the country,” says C-SPAN’s Manager of Education Relations Craig McAndrew. “This year, students clearly stepped up their approach to deliver thoughtful and diverse responses to our competition theme, which reflect enormous time and effort put into the research and construction of their documentaries.”

Locally, Fishers High School students Sophie Foley and Lauren Higginbotham found success in the 2019 StudentCam competition, and are happy with their documentary and the second place finish.

“It’s a huge honor,” says Foley, when asked her thoughts on the significance of “Students Ruin The First Amendment” airing on C-SPAN. “We were just having fun with it, but it was amazing to see all our hard work pay off.”

The documentary explores what the First Amendment means for life in America today and encourages everyone to engage in healthy and respectful dialogue with one another, taking care to treat First Amendment rights with respect. The film features clips of interviews with Indiana politicians such as Congresswoman Susan Brooks, Attorney General Curtis Hill and even Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness, as they all share their thoughts on the implications of the First Amendment in America and how unique the rights given by it are in comparison to much of the rest of the globe.

“We really felt the first amendment defines our American Experience because whoever we were talking to or interviewing would have something to say about it,” Higginbotham says. “It was made a long time ago, but it’s still so relevant today.”

“Students Ruin The First Amendment,” as well as the other winning submission in the StudentCam Competition, can be viewed at studentcam.org for those who missed the airing on C-SPAN in April.