Sulphur students recognized in C-SPAN StudentCam competition

Two teams of sophomore students at Sulphur High School were recently recognized by C-SPAN for their award-winning video documentary submissions in the 2019 StudentCam competition.

More than 6,000 students from across the country participated in the annual competition, with SHS’s teams being the only ones awarded in Louisiana.

Students were required to use scholarly research and C-SPAN clips to address the theme, “What does it mean to be an American?”

Aaron Mansell and Samantha Ducote were honorably mentioned in the competition for their film “Journey to Equality.” Ducote said they selected equality because of the frequent commentary on the state of social equality and often polarizing opinions that can arise. “Some people think that America’s like a lot more equal now than it was in the past and some people say the opposite,” she said.

The video seeks to examine the progression of equality throughout time, and Mansell said he personally arrived at an important conclusion. “We’re making progress, but it’s very slow. We’re still trying to find our way through without killing ourselves.”

Leighann Gully, Emma Klenke and Alyssa Vining were also honorably mentioned for their film “The Land of Opportunity,” which examines the immigration process. “We were thinking of all of the broad ideas and what was truly happening in America and something that was really prominent was immigration,” said Vining.

The team used historical context and an interview with a local immigrant from Venezuela. Klenke said the experience gave her a new appreciation for citizens who immigrate legally. “It was a lot harder than I thought it would be, and it took a lot more time and money,” she said.

Much more than student projects, the students and Kristen Harrell, AP government teacher, agreed that watching the documentaries would be eye-opening for all ages. Mansell said older generations would be pleased to find a greater depth to millenials who can be stereotyped as “always on their phone.”

“We’re a lot more than that,” he said. “I feel like there’s a communication gap between our generation and the older generation. Watching this would kind of eliminate the ignorance.”

With C-SPAN’s record number of submissions to the contest this year, Harrell said she knew the competition would be tougher than ever for her students. “In theory, I’m training these kids for college and they just rose to the challenge,” she said.

The students’ passionate films should send a positive signal to all concerning a generation that often “gets a very bad rap,” she said. “See the potential here. For me, it gives me absolute hope for the future. I feel very confident about when we pass on the reins to this young generation.”

For more information on the competition or to view the documentaries visit,