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Bloomington middle-school students win film festival prize for anti-bullying project

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BLOOMINGTON, Indiana — Batchelor Middle School students will travel to the Big Apple next week to be awarded first place in the Peace in the Streets Global Film Festival.

Two eighth-graders, along with their teacher, Jeff Rudkin, will attend the award ceremony at the United Nations headquarters following the U.N.'s Culture of Peace forum.

"It's great that our video was chosen to express peace and inspire others," said Thomas Mahan, one of the students in the Batchelor Television program who will go to New York City.

Thomas has never been to New York, and neither has Phoebe Rensink, who also will be traveling there.

Thomas and Phoebe are among 15 students in Rudkin's class who opted to come in over four days during the summer to write, shoot and edit a film to submit for the Peace in the Streets Global Film Festival, The Herald-Times reported (http://bit.ly/1u8WPEv ).

The movie starts with a group of students who are making plans to go to the mall, but one bully, played by Kobe Davis, doesn't want to include everyone.

Kobe points to a student wearing glasses and says he can't come along to the mall. "He's short. He's a nerd. He looks funny," Kobe said.

The other kids push back.

"Why can't we just respect one another?" Thomas' character asks.

The bully finds out that disrespecting others who are different can lead to bad outcomes.

In the end, every student decides they need to start a ripple to respect one another's differences, and the kids join hands to make a pact on it.

The film is called "Respect: The Key to Peace in the Streets," and of all the entries from kids age 9 to 13, the Batchelor TV students came out on top.

This year's eighth-graders are competitive, and their desire to win made them willing to spend some of their summer break making a film.

"We wanted to do something better than the students last year," Phoebe said.

"We want to participate in as many video contests as possible so we can make our mark," Thomas said.

To create an award-winning film while school was out, the students had to get organized.

Eighth-grader Sejal Rajamani said the toughest part of making the movie was getting everyone on the same page.

Once Kobe came up with the concept for the script, he talked it over with his classmates, who critiqued the idea. In the end, they taped the film twice.

Rudkin applauded their willingness to come in during the summer and put in the effort.

He's been teaching the video course for 20 years, and based on the work ethic he's already seen from this year's eighth-grade class, he's expecting great things.

"I think it's great that students were willing to put extra time in over the summer and accomplish a goal like that," he said. "To be able to take students to the United Nations, that's really an amazing honor."

Rudkin and the two students will be presented with awards on Sept. 9 at the United Nations.


Information from: The Herald Times, http://www.heraldtimesonline.com

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