On Wednesday, May 4, the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) presented awards to seven Kennett High School students. Since 2002, the NATAS awards have recognized outstanding cultural, educational, technological, entertainment, news, and informational achievements by high school students who are pursuing careers in media and journalism. More than 150 students from more than a dozen high schools throughout the Greater Philadelphia region attended the event held at Drexel University in Philadelphia. Kennett High School students were accompanied by Mr. Frank Vanderslice, video production teacher.
Kennett High School senior Giovanna Ruggio garnered her category’s top prize, an Arts and Entertainment Emmy, for her production of “Practice Makes Perfect.” The film documents the life of a tap dancer as she choreographs, practices, and performs. The featured tap dancer is Giovanna’s best friend, so it was important to Giovanna that she portray the story well.
“I really wanted to give her a ‘pedestal’ moment,” she said.
“Going to the Emmys, I was nervous. I’d never gone to a competition like this before. I was afraid that, if I didn’t do well, I should reconsider my major. But, I won, so it made me even more excited for next year and the future,” Giovanna explained.
Giovanna’s award represents the third Emmy won by a Kennett High School student in recent years. Mr. Vanderslice commented that Giovanna “Just has an eye for editing. She’s so precise. People don’t realize the skill that it takes, timing each cut.” Giovanna will attend Temple University in the fall, majoring in Film and Media Studies.
Other Kennett High School students receiving Awards of Excellence include Madison Brown and Nijia Walls, who were honored in the Outstanding Music Video category for their film, “Kennett Pride;” Sean Rodgers, Luciano Spera, Michael Bellino, and Giovanna Ruggio who were honored in the Long Form – Fiction category for their work, “The Inevitable;” and Jack Ryder, who was honored in the Writing category for his film “Project Vigilante.” Additionally, Giovanna Ruggio was recognized in the Long Form – Fiction category for “Try.” Maggie O’Sullivan and Kyle Sheridan also entered their production work into the competition.
Junior Jack Ryder’s entry, “Project Vigilante,” took him three months to complete. With a plot Jack describes as being similar to Rolling Thunder, the film chronicles the adventures of a hit man targeting Russians as he avenges the death of his friend. He filmed the project in locations all over Kennett Square.
“The project taught me a lot more about the process of film making, directing, scheduling, and troubleshooting editing software,” observed Jack.
Mr. Vanderslice is extremely proud of his students and the quality of their work.
“I think this was our most successful year in terms of the number of entries we had and the number of awards received. I could see how dedicated the students were to putting in the time and effort to produce quality work. Each year the competition grows more intense as more schools participate. I think the number of schools competing has doubled in recent years,” said Mr. Vanderslice.
“This year, students got a chance to meet professionals in the field and talk to college students about their experiences and how much time they put in,” Mr. Vanderslice added.
Ms. Tara Faccenda, Executive Director of NATAS, asserted, “We are delighted to recognize the work of these individuals who represent the future of broadcast journalism . . . It’s amazing to see the growth of the student awards program in our region as well. This year we received the highest number of entries from twenty-five different high schools. The level of competition is a true testament to the tremendous talent that these students display.”