The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School


The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School


The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School


Celebrating Tomorrow’s Filmmakers 


At a Monday awards ceremony, seven TV & Media students were honored for their outstanding performance in two large-scale competitions. 

Yahney-Marie Sangaré


TV Media students do a lot more than just produce the morning announcements. This year, students from ACHS’s TV & Media Production classes placed in two major contests: SkillsUSA’s national Broadcast News Production competition and C-SPAN’s Studentcam documentary competition. On Monday, May 8, a ceremony honored the seven students who placed. Attendees included Superintendent Dr. Melanie Kay-Wyatt and C-SPAN Director of Education Craig McAndrew. The event was emceed by senior Jacob Sanchez. 

At the SkillsUSA competition, juniors Ben Delnegro, Gryphon Magnus, Sarah McBurney and Mia Mervis placed first at districts and second state-wide. Delnegro and Magnus were the anchors, McBurney was the director and Mervis was the floor director. The district competition was held in Arlington, where their win moved them forth to the state-wide competition in Virginia Beach. 

“It was interesting working with [the team] in a way that is different from what you’re used to. You get to know people; it was nice,” said Delnegro. 

The segment is recorded live in the studio during the competition. At the state level, McBurney also filled in for Mervis, who was unable to attend, as the floor director. 

Juniors Gryphon Magnus, Sarah McBurney and Benjamin Delnegro stand in the TV studio with their temporary medals. Each of these students was honored for their performance in the SkillsUSA competition. Mia Mervis, floor manager, was unable to attend Monday’s event 

“We’ve all run TMA in the past, so we have a lot of experience with that,” said McBurney. “It’s cool to have this as an award to say that I’ve done something — a physical way to show the work that I’ve done and the knowledge that I have.”

“I loved the SkillsUSA experience as it helped me develop my TV Media Production talent as well as working with my classmates . . . We worked hard to create a wonderful piece of work that ended up getting first place,” said Mervis. 

“I had a really great time. It was fun; it’s always good to exercise my broadcasting abilities,” said Magnus. “I see this as another thing to add to my portfolio. I can show that I can professionally do this broadcasting thing. Even though broadcasting isn’t necessarily what I want to go into . . . This is still a good step in doing what I want to do in life.” 

The SkillsUSA participants were rewarded first and received temporary medals as the formal ones had not yet come in. The medals were presented by former ACHS TV & Media Production teacher Benjamin Lyon (left) 

“The competitions that we participate in is a confirmation and affirmation for the students that what they’re learning here is worth something. So winning that is just a drop in the bucket, because for me, as far as they’re concerned, they’ve won when they produce and create the programs that they’ve done. That already is an affirmation that they’ve arrived,” said Zefran.

Senior Jacob Sanchez introduces the SkillsUSA medalists at Monday’s ceremony 

After the presentation of the SkillsUSA participants, McAndrew introduced the three students who received honorable mentions in the C-SPAN Studentcam competition. Sophomores Leo Dienstfrey and Marisa Vidal and junior Lashelle Sakyi were among nine groups in Virginia (out of over 3000 competing internationally) to be honored in the competition. Their six-minute documentary, Modern Day Slavery, addressed human trafficking.

Sophomore Leo Dienstfrey, junior Lashelle Sakyi and sophomore Marisa Vidal stand in the TV studio, awaiting their certificates and answering questions about the documentary they produced

“Human trafficking is something that’s so huge, and it’s in everyone’s neighborhood; it’s everywhere. It’s something that’s just not discussed, so we really wanted to touch on that and get perspectives out, because everyone should know about it,” said Vidal.

“TV Media is my thing. This project . . . is my first big project where I realized this is going to be a lot of work, and a lot of work that I love, and a lot of work that I’ll enjoy doing in the future, and for the rest of my life,” said Dienstfrey. “I genuinely love TV Media and film production, and this project showed me the work that I put in and the work I’d get out of it.” 

C-SPAN Director of Education Craig McAndrew delivers a speech about the importance of student film-making and involvement in global issues before presenting the honorable mention recipients 

“TV Media is not only about TV and film; it gives you broader topics . . . It gives you friends who have been in different situations; it’s a great networking place. It gives you an amazing situation where you can make great friends and do what you love,” said Sakyi.

Benjamin Lyon, a former TV Media teacher at ACHS who still often comes to help with the TV Media classes, was also honored for his time at ACPS during the ceremony.

Lyon was introduced and commended by Zefran. He gives a brief thank you speech to the audience, including his former students

After the event, honorees and guests celebrated with cake and tea. Looking forward to next year, the TV & Media Production classes will continue participating in these contests.

“We want to continue having these opportunities for students who are . . . visual artists, because if you’re just writing, if you’re just looking at lectures, you’re not really developing yourself. You need to be able to produce, and create, and the other half of that, which I keep telling my students, is the idea of viewership. They need to be able to communicate to their audiences what they’re saying in terms of visuals; it’s not just translated but also confirmed with the audiences,” said Zefran. 

The cake read “Congratulations C-Span and Skills USA.” After the honored students made the first cut, attendees, including parents and guests, celebrated in the adjunct room 

“It’s an amazing opportunity, because . . . if you do [anything] enough, you kind of forget what a big deal it is. I really love that they have an opportunity to throw themselves up against not just their peers in Virginia or on the East Coast; it’s really just everyone in the United States and internationally. So to do this well against your peers on a global level, that’s really huge, and it kind of proves [for them], ‘Oh wow, I’m good at this,’” said Lyon. 

All photos by Yahney-Marie Sangaré for Theogony

Featured image caption: Award recipients and student crew pose for a photo in the TV studio. From left: sophomore Leo Dienstfrey, sophomore Marisa Vidal, junior Lashelle Sakyi, junior Gryphon Magnus, junior Benjamin Delnegro, junior Lester “Rocky” Hernandez, junior Sarah McBurney, senior Max Rocchio, senior Alison Avelar and junior Aidan Hill

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