C-SPAN makes school visit to recognize student’s documentary

By: Victoria Mitchell | Royal Oak Review | Published June 8, 2016

 The 45-foot, $1 million C-SPAN bus visited Royal Oak High School June 3. The bus includes a research center and a full 
production studio for use while out on the campaign trail.

The 45-foot, $1 million C-SPAN bus visited Royal Oak High School June 3. The bus includes a research center and a full production studio for use while out on the campaign trail.

Photo by Donna Dalziel

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ROYAL OAK — Georgie Abbey’s opinions on abortion were reinforced after making an award-winning documentary on the contentious subject.

The Royal Oak High School senior interviewed clergymen, Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence and students, and utilized C-SPAN footage in her short film.

“I think it is a very hot topic, especially for young people,” Abbey said. “I tossed around a few different aspects regarding abortion — whether I wanted to do should it be legal? Should it be legal for minors? — and all these other ideas, but I decided to just focus on what other people’s viewpoints are and make it as unbiased as I could.”

Although Abbey is keeping her opinion to herself, she said that speaking with experts on both sides of the issue didn’t change her personal views on the topic, and she hopes her documentary will make others think more about their own viewpoints, especially in a presidential election year.

“I want people to just formulate their own opinions,” she said. “I know a lot of opinions are swayed by parents’ views or religious views or political views, and I just hope after watching this that people can take what experts say, what their peers say, what adults say, and sort of gather their own opinions on what they believe is right.”

Her documentary, titled “A Woman’s Right,” caught producers’ eyes as they recognized her work in the 2016 C-SPAN StudentCam national documentary contest.

Students were asked to create a five- to seven-minute video documentary on the topic, “Road to the White House: What’s the issue you most want candidates to discuss during the 2016 presidential campaign?”

“The purpose of the competition is to get students to use their critical-thinking skills,” said C-SPAN marketing representative La’Shawna Saint-Preux. “We want them to think critically about issues in the nation.”

Saint-Preux said C-SPAN received 2,887 video submissions from nearly 6,000 students in 45 states and Washington, D.C. She said that out of the entries, 150 students were recognized for their work and awarded cash prizes. The contest is open to students in sixth-12th grades.

“To be recognized is a big deal,” she said.

Abbey received an honorable mention, $250 and a C-SPAN visit to Royal Oak High School June 3.

As part of the recognition, the 45-foot C-SPAN bus visited the school, which allowed Abbey and her fellow film students the chance to take a peek inside the mobile research center, news monitoring station and student resource center.

Saint-Preux explained that the bus includes a full production studio that is used for interviews along the campaign trail.

Royal Oak High School film teacher Mike Conrad said he was proud of Abbey’s work.

“She went out and really reached out to the community, and not just, ‘Hey kids in the hallway,’ but let’s get out there and talk to people,” he said. “She did a really, really good job.”

Conrad explained that really one of the only stipulations for entering the C-SPAN documentary contest was that students use C-SPAN footage, which C-SPAN provided to them.

Conrad is no stranger to watching his film students excel, as year after year they have taken state and national honors for their work.

“I have students who are one-year, two-year or three-year students who have been with me for a couple of years, and when they get to the three-year level, I look for much larger scale of concept,” he said.

Conrad said this particular contest is exciting because often student works in any subject are seen only inside the classroom.

“But now this is getting some recognition, it’s online and it’s being recognized by an organization in Washington, D.C. — C-SPAN,” he said. “That takes it out of the classroom and brings it out into the world, and I like that.”

Abbey said she was honored to receive the recognition and she looks forward to further pursuing her interest in film and political issues in the fall. She will be attending Wayne State University to double major in political science and media arts and studies.

“I love news, I love documentaries, and it’s what I want to do for the rest of my life,” she said.

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