The fourth-annual Academy Awards honored students and teachers for outstanding videos made throughout the school year during a gala presentation at Linden High School on June 11. 

By Gary Miller

It was a celebration to give Hollywood’s biggest night a run for its money.

Students and staff from all Linden Public Schools gathered Tuesday, June 11, for the fourth-annual Academy Awards to honor the year’s best student-created videos from all grade levels.

The awards are named for Linden High School Academy of Science and Technology, home to the district Technology Department, which hosted the program in the LHS auditorium.

SEE MORE PHOTOS FROM ACADEMY AWARDS NIGHT

SEE ACADEMY AWARDS PROGRAM LISTING ALL NOMINEES

In his opening remarks, Director of Technology Michael Walters spoke of the overwhelming response the program received this year, with more than 150 video entrees.

“If you’re a student sitting in this room tonight,” he said to the nominees, “you should be very, very proud of yourself. You are some of the most creative and most talented students in this district.”

Walters, who ran the program for nine years at LHS as a teacher before taking it districtwide, attributed the growing popularity of the awards program in large part to the district’s One to One technology program. Started five years ago, the program supplies every student in the district with a MacBook Air laptop or an iPad tablet.

He also credited this year’s expansion of the elementary school technology program with spurring on the enthusiasm.

“We have a number of elementary technology teachers who have really excelled this year and brought this competition to the next level,” he said. “All of the teachers just do an outstanding job.”

Oscar trophies were awarded in eight categories, including four at the elementary level, one for middle schools, and two for high school. In addition, this year a districtwide award for Best Community/Global Service Project was presented.

“The Academy Awards have become a marquee event that puts a spotlight on student creativity that others in the district may never know about otherwise,” said Acting Superintendent Denise Cleary. “Mr. Walters and the Technology Department do a phenomenal job in organizing the event, choosing nominees and winners, and making students and teachers feel like Hollywood stars.”

Entrees were judged by an anonymous panel of administrators, teachers, students, and Technology Department staff members.

The ambience and energy in the auditorium was electric as the awards were given out. Clips of each nominee in a category were shown before the winner was announced. As each presenter said, “And the winner is …,” spotlights ran back and forth across the room, heightening the anticipation.

Winners came onstage to accept their awards, gave short acceptance speeches, then were whisked away for celebratory photos by the paparazzi.

Here are the winners:

BEST ELEMENTARY PROJECT (K-3)
(Presented by Instructional Technology Coach Sally Stevens)winners posing with Oscars trophy
“Animals Around the World”
School No. 2 first-grade students
Teachers: Laura Rojas and Julie Becker

BEST ELEMENTARY TEACHER/CLASS PROJECT (3-5)
(Presented by LHS Principal Yelena Horré)  winners posing with trophy
“NJSLA Happy”
School No. 2 fifth-grade students
Teachers: Pelagia Lambrakopoulos and Erica Huggins

BEST ELEMENTARY STUDENT PROJECT (4-5)
(Presented by School No. 6 Principal William Mastriano)winners posing with Oscars trophy
“Robo Gym”
School No. 9 students Isabella Burdick, Vincent Vega, Juliana Aristizabal, Vanessa Walczak, Miriam Melek
Teachers: Mitch Gorbunoff and Brian Marcus

BEST ELEMENTARY SCHOOLWIDE PROJECT
(Presented by School No. 1 technology teacher Kimberly Bachmann)winners posing with Oscars trophy
“ELEV-8”
All School No. 8 Students
Principal Michelle Rodriquez and staff of School No. 8

BEST MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENT PROJECT
(Presented by School No. 4 and School No. 9 technology teacher Mitch Gorbunoff)winner's teacher posing with Oscars trophy
“Lego Stop Motion”
McManus Middle School student Nathaniel Banfield
Teacher: Jennifer DeTrolio

 BEST HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT PROJECT (SOCIAL STUDIES/WORLD LANGUAGE)
(Presented by School No. 8 and School No. 10 technology teacher Kim Kefalas)winners posing with Oscars trophy
“The Legendary Story of Chinese New Year”
LHS students Syrai Anderson, Travis Espinhal, Shirley Meneses, Jacky Ren, Mahmoud Shehata, Leo Yeung
Teacher: Lin Lin Hu

BEST HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT PROJECT (SCIENCE/TECHNOLOGY)
(Presented by One-to-One Program Coordinator Joseph Scaldino)winners posing with Oscars trophy
“The Trials”
LHS students Gurvir Singh and Paul Niziolek
Teacher: Holly Sepulveda

BEST COMMUNITY/GLOBAL SERVICE PROJECT
(Presented by School No. 4 Principal Anthony Cataline)winners posing with oscars trophy
“KoKo”
School No. 1 students Nel Kukielko, Alexa Martinez, Claribel Abue, Aileen Ulloa, Devin Pierre, David Mejia, Lucas Robel, Markel Walcolm, Gabriel Morales, Tanisha Gabriel, Vanessa Kolesarova
Teacher: Kimberly Bachmann