FREEPORT — Five Freeport Middle School eighth graders were honored Tuesday for winning awards in C?SPAN’s annual Student Cam documentary competition.

Alexander Dawson, Zane Aguiar and Will Morris placed third of 150 entries in the national competition for their video “The American Idea.” The trio won a $750 prize.

“The American Idea” outlines what it means to be an American. The short documentary also details the history and treatment of immigrants in the United States.

Students Lauren Roussel and Isla Wilson won $250 and earned an honorable mention for their documentary, “A Nation of Immigrants.”

All the award-winners were recognized during an all-school assembly.

The students are the first from Maine to win any kind of award in the national competition, which has existed since 2006.

The filmmakers were required to do all the work themselves, with little oversight. They were tasked to schedule and conduct all interviews, with the full use of any equipment they needed to film the project.

The competition was open to eighth graders in Shawn Favreau’s social studies class. Favreau said he was made aware of the competition in 2018.

“We have some very talented students and I knew that some of my students would do very well in this competition,” he said. “I was just there to monitor their progress and supervise, but they did it all and to see their hard work come to fruition like this is just incredible. I am really proud of these students.”

According to Vanessa Torres, C-SPAN marketing director, this year’s project had to address the theme, “What Does it Mean to be American.” Entrants had to choose a constitutional right, national characteristic, or historic event and explain “how it defines the American experience.”

“Each year since 2006, C-SPAN has partnered with its local cable television providers in communities nationwide to invite middle and high school students to produce short documentaries about a subject of national importance,” Torres said.

Dawson said he learned quite a bit from being involved in the project and also has a new-found respect for immigrants who venture to the United States.

“It was interesting talking to these immigrants who came over here because as a sheltered kid in Freeport, Maine, I had no idea what some of these people have to go through,” he said. “I am much more thankful now for living in this country than I ever was before.”

Rousell, who worked on “A Nation of Immigrants,” said she learned more about the immigration process and has more empathy for people who are fleeing their home countries.

“I just cannot imagine having to move away from my country because it isn’t safe anymore,” she said. “I have such respect for these people and I hope people my age who see the documentary will feel the same way.”

Patti McDonald can be reached at 780-9123 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter: @pmcdonaldme.

Freeport Middle School students honored Tuesday with awards in C-SPAN’s annual Student Cam documentary competition are Will Morris, left, Alexander Dawson, Zane Aguiar, Isla Wilson and Lauren Roussel. 

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