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Bishop Gorman sophomore wins C-SPAN prize for documentary

Zander Clinton’s documentary opens to smooth homemade beats and an image of the classic “Welcome To Fabulous Las Vegas” sign. Zander’s melancholy voice comes on immediately, recalling the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting.

Zander’s documentary, “Gun Violence in Vegas,” won third place in C-SPAN’s national StudentCam competition this year.

Student winners were notified by C-SPAN this month; Zander’s winning announcement was sent by C-SPAN to the media on March 13.

Zander, 15, a sophomore at Bishop Gorman High School, won third place out of 6,318 students nationwide who participated — some in groups. The theme this year was, “What does it mean to be American? Choose a constitutional right, national characteristic, or historic event and explain how it defines the American experience.”

According to C-SPAN, popular topics included First Amendment rights, equality/discrimination and immigration.

Zander said he chose to build a documentary about the Second Amendment and gun violence because “October 1 was such a big thing here. I was interested in how it happened … it was the biggest mass shooting in history; it made me think there was more to look into.”

Zander said his classmates had discussions and an assembly about the shooting.

Zander spoke to a wide range of people for his project, which took months to finish. He talked to a few friends, with whom he said he often debates politics.

He said the discussions throughout the documentary helped open his eyes to other perspectives.

“I learned how different groups of people deal with problems like this, how they see things and why they view things the way they do,” Zander said.

He said that will keep him open-minded in the future.

Zander is the only winner of the competition from Las Vegas this year. Pam McGorry, education programs specialist with C-SPAN, said three eighth-graders at Alexander Dawson School at Rainbow Mountain placed in the competition in 2015. Kayla Salehian, Elaina Young and Autumn Coulthard, then students at the Summerlin-area school, created a nearly seven-minute documentary titled “The Pros and Cons of the Affordable Care Act.”

“Every year students impress us with the quality of work they send, with the interviews they get,” McGorry said.

She said the judges were impressed with the interviews Zander got, including with Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford and former Nevada Supreme Court Justice Michael Douglas. Judging took place at the C-SPAN offices in Washington, D.C.

Zander won $750.

His documentary was part of C-SPAN’s 15th year holding the StudentCam competition.

He said when he got the email announcement of his third-place finish, he was “really happy” and knew his hard work had paid off.

Zander, who long has wanted to be a horror film director, said he’s now interested in filming documentaries someday.

“It was fun putting everything together,” he said.

Contact Rachel Spacek at 702-387-2921 or rspacek@reviewjournal.com. Follow @RachelSpacek on Twitter.

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