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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 more…national 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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