Sophomore interviews First Lady on CSPAN

Ellen Gustavson/Staff Writer

How many CFHS students get the opportunity to speak with the First Lady of the United States? It looks like sophomore Sara Gabriele takes the prize on this one.

After entering the CSPAN Student Cam contest, Gabriele received an honorable mention award and $250 for her documentary that focused on the national school lunch program, childhood obesity and health care.

Over 1,000 entries in the national contest between junior high and high school students were sent in, almost double the number of entries last year, and Gabriele ranked 11th in the high school division.

“It was really exciting to find out I had placed as an honorable mention because the students that won first through third really made some amazing and impressive videos,” Gabriele said. “Just to be considered up there with some of these other kids from across the country was really cool and rewarding.”

Those entering the contest sent in a five to eight minute documentary that included footage from CSPAN about a challenge facing the nation or one of the nation’s greatest strengths. The most common theme among entries was childhood obesity.

Gabriele’s documentary, titled “Improving School Lunch: Too costly, or a way to bend the cost curve?” was also done for her semester project in Honors English. She interviewed both local and national experts, including senator Tom Harkin’s top policy advisor.

Gabriele said one of the hardest parts was gathering the information to incorporate into her documentary. “A lot of the information I needed wasn’t simply summarized on websites,” Gabriele said. “I had to gather most of it through interviews and by looking through CSPAN footage.” She added that sifting through hours of CSPAN footage needed to do her research and find the necessary clips to incorporate in her film was a very time consuming and monotonous task.

But in the end, the hard work paid off. Gabriele was featured on CSPAN in a phone interview with Michelle Obama, who is working for the cause of childhood obesity.

“It was really neat to talk to her,” Gabriele said. “But I was getting really nervous because the students that talked to her before me also asked questions about school lunches, so I thought her answers would cover all four questions I had already written out.”

She also commented on the feeling of being on national television. “It was weird to have my relatives in New York City calling me to say they had seen me on T.V.,” she said.

The CSPAN Student Cam contest is annual, meaning Gabriele could enter again next year. “It was a really fun project to work on, and I think I’d like to enter again, but work in a team with other students,” Gabriele said.

Gabriele’s documentary can be viewed on the CSPAN Student Cam website, as well as documentaries from other winners of the contest.

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