The New Jersey School Boards Association is pleased to announce the winning student-produced films this year in the Second Annual “New Jersey Hometown Documentary Short” category in the Garden State Film Festival.

The “New Jersey Hometown Documentary Short” category was created by the NJSBA in 2018 to encourage young student filmmakers’ creativity while instilling a sense of pride in their hometown.

The category required New Jersey students to create a short film focusing on an important aspect of the students’ hometown, including profiles of interesting people, places or subjects related to the arts.

“The NJSBA is proud to sponsor such a unique forum for student filmmakers to display their talents,” said NJSBA Executive Director Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod. “The films submitted this year are exceptional, and it is our hope that being seen in the Garden State Film Festival will help launch the promising careers of these young student artists.”

Grand Prize Winner  The grand prize-winning film in the “Hometown Documentary” category is  At the Core – The Heart of Appel Farm, produced and directed by students Troy Nguyen and Chloe Pecheux at Washington Township High School in Gloucester County, where Kristen Dirato is the TV Broadcast and Video Production teacher. The winning school district will be awarded $500 by the NJSBA. (Nguyen and Pecheux are shown holding their cameras in the lead photo of this week’s School Board Notes.)

Two other films were honored as runners-up.

  • The First Runner-Up was Springfield N.J., produced and directed by Jorge Rivera, Frank Sarracino and Ryan Sickinger of the Jonathan Dayton High School in Springfield Township, Union County, where the TV/Film teacher is Greg Coward.
  • The Second Runner-Up was Flower Power, produced and directed by students Marlayna O’Brien, Henry Ruiz, Jennifer Ruiz-Gonzalez and Sammy Horan at the East Brunswick Technical High School in Middlesex County, where Louis Libitz is the TV/Film teacher.

The student documentaries can be seen at the following links below:

Entries for next year’s contest are already being accepted. The Garden State Film Festival will be held from March 23 to March 27 in 2022. The deadline for student entries is January 2nd, 2022. For more information, go to