LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - What does it mean to be American? It’s a question high school students learn about in this advanced placement class on government and politics, but especially so in this class where their major project was to enter a C-SPAN national contest on that theme.
Two teams won an honorable mention for their five to six-minute documentaries. Alyssa Vining’s team chose the topic of immigration and how it has shaped America.
“If you’re an American, you’re most likely an immigrant. So, we thought it truly meant something to America. Immigration hasn’t recently started. It started from the Mayflower, and Jamestown and Ellis Island. As such we decided to say how America is a land of opportunity and it means a lot to all of the immigrants from the past,” Vining said. ”Our country is probably the best for opportunity. We have so many options for anyone that comes into America. You can do whatever you want, wherever you want in America and it’s truly the land of opportunity for anyone that wants to come in and work for it."
Aaron Mansell and his team partner examined equality in their video.
“We wanted to focus on how America has constantly evolved and what was viewed as equal maybe 100 years ago, 200 years ago, may not be was we viewed as equal now," Manzell said.
He says they find that the concept of equality is constantly evolving.
“You see on the news all this kind of turmoil over police brutality—just chaos, basically, and it shows that America is not equal, but whenever you put it into perspective, it shows we’ve come a long way,” Manzell said.
Teacher Kristen Harrell says the projects were a challenge for students.
“They had to have multiple points of view. They had to have some C-SPAN footage,” Harrell said. “They had to write up their entire script so I knew they had a plan. And then, sweet babies, they had to teach themselves how to edit.”
Harrell says the students largely worked on the projects outside of school. She says it’s a huge honor for two projects to receive an honorable mention.
“I’m so proud. I want to say like a mama bear; very, very proud. I’m proud of all of them," Harrell said. "Even C-SPAN said the quality of work was far beyond previous years.”
Besides research, planning and setting up interviews the students shot and edited their projects and uploaded them to c-span--and made their teacher and school proud.
The students received a $250 prize for each project. To watch the projects, click below:
“Journey to Equality” by Aaron Mansell and Samantha Ducote
“The Land of Opportunity” by Alyssa Vining, Leighann Gully and Emma Klenke