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Northwoods teens receive national recognition for documentarySubmitted: 03/21/2014
Story By Lauren Stephenson


MINOCQUA - Two students at Lakeland Union High School completed an end of the semester assignment.

All they wanted was an A on the project.

But they ended up getting much moreÖnational recognition.

"I just remember talking to Paige and we really didn't know how we were going to finish it," explained Lakeland Union High School Junior Sophia Weiss.

"It was a huge project that affected our grades a lot so I was just in it to get the A. Pass it," said Lakeland Union High School Junior Paige Courtney.

That huge project was an end of the semester assignment for their political science class.

Lakeland Union High School Juniors Sophia Weiss and Paige Courtney had to make a 7 minute mini documentary.

It had to focus on the most important issue the U.S. Congress should consider in 2014.

That documentary would be submitted to the CSPAN StudentCam Competition.

"The focus is to draw students into the civic arena to discuss issues that are pertinent in our society today," explained LUHS Library Media Specialist Ethan Jahnke.

Paige and Sophia weren't really thinking about the CSPAN competition.

They just wanted a good grade. But the students got much more.

"Sophia got the email first and then she texted me and she's like, 'We won! We were like third in the CSPAN project. And we won a prize,'" explained Courtney.

That prize was $750. More than 4,800 students from around the country submitted their documentaries to CSPAN.

LUHS has participated in the competition for 4 years. This was the first time students placed.

"It was all on them and they did a fantastic job," said Jahnke.

Perhaps one of the reasons they placed was because they focused on a topic that impacts their own community.

"In our small town, near the top of Wisconsin, businesses struggle to remain open. As businesses close, this forces people to move away from Minocqua which further hurts the surviving businesses in the area. A solution to this problem anywhere from small towns to big cities is corporate tax reform," their documentary opens.

They interviewed a business owner, a financial officer for a major Northwoods-based company, and State Senator Tom Tiffany.

"Seeing a lot of foreclosures on homes and things means people are leaving here and our school population is declining. So bringing more people to Minocqua would improve everything," said Courtney.

"It's important because we want to keep Minocqua thriving and corporate tax reform is extremely important to keep businesses open and keep people coming to Minocqua and finding jobs here," said Weiss.

Sophia and Paige believe the most important lesson they learned is to get involved.

"It's important for us to have a voice because we look at things differently than adults do," explained Courtney.

Related Weblinks:
Watch their documentary

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 IN OTHER NEWS
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 02/27/2017

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

We take you live to Lakeland Union High School to preview tonight's girls' basketball regional finals as the Thunderbirds take on New London.

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And if you can't make your way down south to celebrate Fat Tuesday, you won't have to travel too far to get in on the fun. We'll take you to a Minocqua restaurant that is hosting a Fat Tuesday food and wine pairing night.

We'll bring you the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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MADISON - A key Republican legislator says Gov. Scott Walker's plan to cut University of Wisconsin System tuition could hurt taxpayers that and lawmakers should instead consider letting the system raise tuition according to inflation or income increases.

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ST. GERMAIN - A snowmobile rider from Kenosha died after crashing in St. Germain Saturday night.

The Oneida County Sheriff's Office says Jeffrey E. Schultz, 62, crashed into a utility pole while riding on a snowmobile trail near the Rustic Manor along Highway 70.  It happened just before 11 p.m.  Schultz was pronounced dead at the scene.

A 43-year-old man from St. Germain who was riding on the sled was hurt in the crash.  Emergency crews took him to Howard Young Medical Center in Woodruff.

"Prior to Friday we had 14 fatalities for the season in the state. We had one in Iron County last night and then of course this one here in Oneida County. As far as I know it's 16. I hope we haven't had any more over the weekend," said DNR Conservation Warden Supervisor David Walz.
 
Walz says both the driver and passenger were wearing helmets. He did not say if alcohol or speed were factors in the crash.

"This power line corridor is fairly straight and wide open. It's a well-traveled corridor. You have traffic going in two different directions. It's more like a highway here [because] it's split, you know there's two different directions that are split in the middle of the trail," said Walz.

Walz says two thirds of all fatalities in the state have involved speed and alcohol. He also says it's important for riders to slow down at night while riding their snowmobiles.

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MADISON - State superintendent candidate Lowell Holtz sent a campaign-focused email detailing his support among Republicans using his Whitnall Public School email address during a school day.

The email sent in May appears to be in violation of the state law prohibiting the use of government resources for campaign work.

The email was provided to The Associated Press by the liberal advocacy group One Wisconsin Now which received it through an open records request.

Holtz did not respond to a request for comment.

Former chief state elections administrator Kevin Kennedy says the email does break the law, but it's not likely to rise to the level of something warranting prosecution. Kennedy says it shows more of a lack of judgment than criminal act.

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NEW ORLEANS - 8:30 p.m.

New Orleans police say the number of people injured after a vehicle crashed into a crowd watching the Krewe of Endymion parade in the Mid-City section of New Orleans has increased to 28 and a suspect is in custody.

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Harrison says that 21 people were hospitalized after the crash with five victims in guarded condition. Seven others declined to be hospitalized.

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