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C-SPAN announced today that Jacob Sammon, Matthew Moran and Riley Vander Hart, students at Urbandale High School in Urbandale, Iowa, are first prize winners in C-SPAN’s national 2019 StudentCam competition. They will receive $3,000 for the documentary, “Fighting for a Better Tomorrow,” about the First Amendment. The documentary will air on C-SPAN at 6:50 a.m. ET and throughout the day on April 19.

Each year since 2006, C-SPAN partners 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. This year students addressed the theme, “What does it mean to be American? Choose a constitutional right, national characteristic, or historic event and explain how it defines the American experience.”

In response, a record 6,318 students (a 10 percent increase over 2018) from 48 states and Washington, D.C., participated. The most popular topics among the 2,923 submissions included First Amendment rights (17 percent), equality/discrimination (13 percent) and immigration (9 percent).

“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,” said 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.”

C-SPAN is funded by America’s cable television companies, whom also support StudentCam. In Urbandale, C-SPAN is available locally through Mediacom.


“Mediacom is proud to partner with C-SPAN on its annual documentary competition, StudentCam,” said Steve Purcell, Group Vice President for Area Operations. “These Des Moines area students were challenged to think about our democracy and to creatively portray different views on what it means to be American. We are delighted to see young leaders from Urbandale High School define the American experience through their short video, and we congratulate them on their winning entry.”

These winners are among the 340 students across the country winning a total of $100,000, including one grand prize winner, four first prize winners, 16 second prize winners, 32 third prize winners and 97 honorable mentions. This year C-SPAN marks its 15th year of the competition and awards its 1 millionth dollar in StudentCam prize money.

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