‘Academy Awards’ a step in dreams of Oakland Beach students


Students and teachers strutted down a red carpet for the third annual Oakland Beach Elementary School Academy Awards in the school gymnasium Friday.

Nine sixth graders received honors, with three winning “Academy Awards” for producing book reports on a web-based movie-making website. The project incorporated reading, writing, research, technological and social skills.

Students in all grades voted for the top choices, based on whether the video encourages people to read the book well as identifying character, setting, problem or events in the book.

Judges viewed the top 10 videos. Brianna Devine, 12, won third place for her portrayal of “The Dancing Pancake”; Zachary Bowen, 12, was second with his “Kenny and the Dragon” video; and Chelsea Vieira, 12, taking home first place for her interpretation of “Squirrel World.”

Each student got a gold, Oscar-like statue and thanked teachers Mary Chisholm and Meg Shideler, librarian Suzanne Skiffington and their families for their help.

“Winning this award will always be a favorite memory for me,” said Chelsea, who wants to attend medical school. “I would also like to thank my mom and dad for double checking all of my work … Last but not least, I would like to thank my brother for helping me with everything I do.”

Brianna, a gymnast who dreams of the 2016 Olympics and attending Brown, said, “This is a dream come true … We all worked so hard on these Animotos.”

Six other students won awards for a documentary portion of the programs on Internet safety. Criteria included the ability to gather information; identify online dangers; and captivate the audience; music selection and transitions were also factors.

Anastasia Varela, 12, who enjoys basketball, gymnastics, baseball and dance, also hopes to attend Brown and become a teacher. After winning for a documentary about online gaming, she thanked her teachers and family.

“I’d like to thank my parents for showing me the importance of education and hard work,” Anastasia said. “They always taught me to try my best. I’ve always dreamed of walking down a red carpet and this was a great opportunity for me.”

Daphne Eckert, 12, also said it was a thrill. Daphne, a singer and pianist, won for her documentary on social networking and credited the music for her success.

“Without the music, I would not be able to make my Animoto or get through the rough patches of the project. I am so grateful for this moment,” she said.

Kyalee Corcoran, 12, won for a video about cyber bullying. She thanked her teachers and parents and a special friend.

“I would like to thank Serenity Hawkins because she inspired me to do my absolute best in school and without her I probably wouldn’t even be in the Honor Society,” said Kyalee, who aspires to be a nurse.

Andrea DiMauro, 12, who highlighted information security, said her teachers played a big role in her win. She credited them for giving her the confidence to tackle the assignment.

“I’m very happy that I got chosen for the second round of judging and that I was one of the people who won,” said Andrea, who would like to be a professional clarinet player.

Emily Hogan, 12, who is looking at Rhode Island School of Design, won for her video about website evaluation.

Aaron Fox, 12, earned an award for his video on personal safety and declared that, “The only thing left to say is, ‘Oakland Beach rules.’”

Students had a surprise planned for theater artist in residence Amy Budd, who is headed to Purdue University to earn a Master’s Degree in Directing.

Chorus members sang in honor of her and gave her the first Oakland Beach Elementary School Lifetime Achievement Academy Award.

“I am amazed,” said Budd, who’s been teaching at the school since 2004. “It is such an inspiration to me to come here and make theater and movies with you every day. You are such a source of joy and encouragement to me and I’m really proud and feel so blessed to have been able to spend all this time with you.”

Chisholm said, “We want to celebrate the students who take pride in producing quality work.”


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