Cherry Hill sophomore wins C-Span prize for documentary

Cherry Hill East sophomore Madeline Bowne in front of her second-prize documentary, "Driving Under the Influence (of Cell Phones)." The documentary, which earned Bowne $1,500, will be shown April 14 on C-Span.
Cherry Hill East sophomore Madeline Bowne in front of her second-prize documentary, "Driving Under the Influence (of Cell Phones)." The documentary, which earned Bowne $1,500, will be shown April 14 on C-Span. (TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer)
Posted: April 05, 2014

For the fourth year in a row, a Cherry Hill girl is a winner in C-Span's national StudentCam competition.

Madeline Bowne, a sophomore at Cherry Hill High School East, will be awarded $1,500 for her second-prize documentary, "Driving Under the Influence (of Cell Phones)," about cellphone use while driving. Bowne's piece will be shown on C-Span on April 14 at 6:50 a.m. and throughout the day.

Bowne, the daughter of teachers, has become a regular in the highly competitive contest. As a seventh grader, she took a third prize. The next year, she won a second prize. She received an honorable mention last year.

Personal experience influenced the teen's choice of subject. In driver's education class, the dangers of cellphone use while behind the wheel is discussed, she said. In addition, this year she got involved in UGotBrains, a Brain Injury Alliance-sponsored initiative to encourage safe teen driving.

"I realized how serious an issue this is," said Bowne, 16.

What really brought it home was meeting Mike Kellenyi, father of Nikki Kellenyi, a Washington Township High School senior who died as a result of a 2012 car crash that her family believes was caused by distracted driving. Nikki was a passenger in a car driven by a fellow student. Her death inspired Nikki's Law, state legislation requiring signage about distracted driving. Her family founded Nikki's Foundation - People Against Distracted Driving in her honor.

Bowne said meeting Nikki's father, whom she interviewed for her piece, was an emotional experience.

"It had a very strong effect on me, and I became very passionate about my subject," she said.

It so happens her documentary will be shown on the second anniversary of the crash that took Nikki Kellenyi's life.

A coincidence, Bowne said, "but it's definitely a wonderful memoriam to her."

Bowne said she would probably put her award money in her college account. Two years ago, Bowne said she was thinking about studying math. She is still undecided, but she said journalism has become more of a contender. Come summer, she plans to take WHYY's young filmmakers' class.

This year, C-Span received 2,355 video submissions from more than 4,800 students in 46 states and Washington, D.C. They were asked to answer the question, "What's the most important issue the U.S. Congress should consider in 2014?"

"StudentCam serves as a yearly reminder that young people are not only passionate about issues of national significance, but their ideas and opinions are also worthy of our consideration," said Craig McAndrew, C-Span manager of education relations.

The five documentaries of 10 other area students were given honorable mentions and a $250 prize.

Those winners are:

Emily Cid, a freshman at Tamanend Middle School in Warrington, Bucks County, for "Transportation in America," about transportation, highway deterioration, and the Transportation Bill of Pennsylvania.

Gina Baca, Jeff Freni, and Emily Thomas, all juniors at Clearview Regional High School, Mullica Hill, Gloucester County, for "Natural Disaster Education and Prevention," about Hurricane Sandy, what was to blame, and how it can be addressed in the future.

Gabriella Mumma and Laurel Yerg, seniors at Clearview, for "End the Stigma," about bringing awareness to the stigma surrounding mental illness.

Seniors Matt Armstrong and Scott Hardesty, both seniors, and junior Nicholas Maurer, all from Clearview, for "Texting and Driving: A Deadly Combination."

Matthew Yeandel, a senior at Bishop Shanahan High School in Downingtown, Chester County, for "Dear Congress: Nuclear Terrorism," about nuclear terrorism.


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rgiordano@phillynews.com

@ritagiordano

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