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6th graders strut red carpet at Oakland Beach Academy Awards
Kelcy Dolan
SPIELBERG & COMPANY: Academy Award winning Animoto directors hold up their shiny new Oscars.

Celebrities flocked to Oakland Beach School Tuesday for the 4th Annual Academy Awards. The real stars were the students of Mary Chisholm and Meg Shideler’s sixth grade classes.

Entering the Oakland Beach auditorium, teachers were dressed to the nines with wigs and full-length gowns.

When asked who she was dressed as, Chisholm said, “Oh, it doesn’t matter; I’m famous and fabulous.”

Principal Paul Heatherton, wearing a nice black suit and bow tie joked, “This is normal Tuesday attire.”

Colored lights rotated around the all-purpose room and the red carpet was laid down the center of the room. The shimmer of tiny golden Oscar statues, albeit plastic, could be seen hidden behind the podium. Kids, chatty with excitement, were hustled into the auditorium on either side of the red carpet.

The lights were dimmed and the celebrities in attendance were introduced. Celebrities such as hockey player Patrice Bergeron, singers Jay-Z and Taylor Swift, and actors Adam Sandler and Ariana Grande came for the event. Steve Jobs and Steven Spielberg even made appearances. With each name called, a dressed up student would walk the red carpet holding out their hands for high fives from their adoring audience and fellow students.

Heatherton, who is in his first year as principal of Oakland Beach Elementary, opened the Academy Awards before turning the microphone to Chisholm and Shideler to present the awards.

Oakland Beach Elementary School’s sixth graders became amateur directors with their Animoto videos made for book reports and research projects on environmental issues.

“Animoto is an online program where students can make digital videos” Chisholm explained.

The program has been increasing in popularity throughout the education system in Warwick. The videos showcased at the Academy Awards were impressive, to say the least. Text, music and pictures are crafted together to make a video.

The two teachers worked closely with Suzanne Skiffington the school’s librarian on the Animoto program.

Skiffington said, “There was not much time for collaboration, so we worked together during lunch, after school, anytime we could get together.”

Chisholm said the project “is based on the curriculum, but we take topics important to us. Last year we did cyberbullying with the Animotos.”

For the awards specifically, the Animoto videos were either book reports or documentary style research projects. The students read a book off one of RI Book Lists from the last three years and fashioned a book trailer to entice fellow students to read the book. Their second project was to research an environmental issue and create a short documentary Animoto to inform the public of the problem and offer solutions towards it.

For each category it was explained that the students selected their top 10 favorite Animotos and a panel of judges, made up of teachers, choose the final four runners-up and the overall winner for each category. The winners for the book trailers included Austin Bianchi, Sadie Fox and Royal John Southhammavong. The overall winner for the category was Brandon Garvey. For the documentary category the winners were Jake Nicynski, Chase Rogers, Bianca Smith and Gianna Travis. Naleah Rodrigues was the overall winner with the topic of hazardous waste.

Heatherton said, “I have a great staff here. I am here to promote my teachers and make sure they get what they need to keep doing the amazing work they do. The students did impressive work. These videos could be commercials on TV and 12-year-olds made them.”

At the end of the award show a Lifetime Achievement Award was bestowed on Lynn Mallard, the custodian at Oakland Beach Elementary. The students were in a congratulatory uproar as Mallard tearfully accepted a tiara, a tiny Oscar and a bouquet of flowers cleverly fitted with a Swiffer duster.

The academy award winners said the project was really fun and they are grateful their teachers helped them through it. They all sent out a big thank you to Mrs. Chisholm and Mrs. Shideler.


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