Fifth-grade filmmakers make their way into big time

January 15, 1993|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,Staff Writer

When the Riverview Elementary School fifth-graders made a video about daydreams last spring, they could hardly have foreseen that their production would become the stuff of dreams -- tickets to New Orleans and a chance to compete in an international film festival.

But when 25 youngsters from the southwestern corner of Baltimore County awoke in New Orleans yesterday, the dream had come true.

Their eight-minute video already had won county and state competitions before it was sent to the International Media Festival. With the help of some good friends, the kids raised $13,000 in two months to send themselves to the Big Easy.

What they found out when they arrived was a secret their teacher, Todd Porter, had kept to himself. Their production, "Daydreams with Class," won second place in the international comedy video category for grades four to six.

"This has turned into something that I never even dreamed of," said Mr. Porter. "It's a remarkable experience, something they will remember for the rest of their lives."

The students produced the video themselves. They brainstormed the theme and plot, wrote the script and song, did the filming and editing.

The plot grew out of too much testing, at least from a fifth-grader's perspective, he said. The young filmmakers tried to show, through light-hearted time travel, what they would rather be doing than taking "the big test": Playing professional basketball, conducting a symphony, eating pizza.

The trip is a reunion of sorts for Mr. Porter's class, most of the members now sixth-graders at Lansdowne Middle School. And, after three years at Riverview, Mr. Porter is now at Seven Oaks Elementary School in Perry Hall.

On Wednesday, few of the youngsters could stand still as they waited at Riverview for their bus ride to Baltimore-Washington International Airport and the flight, via Charlotte, N.C., to New Orleans.

"I'm nervous. You should've seen me when I got out of school. I was jumping around," said Rebecca Urban, 11, who was still jumping.

Ralph Walker and Jeremy Frazier, both 12, were a little apprehensive about parts of the trip.

"I'll probably forget my suitcase," said Jeremy.

"I'll probably get homesick," fretted Ralph.

Mr. Porter and Riverview Vice Principal Mick Small accompanied the youngsters, as did nine other chaperones.

The children returned late last night, having made a whirlwind visit to the festival and its award ceremony, sponsored by the Association for Educational Communications and Technology.

The money for the plane tickets, hotel rooms, meals and other expenses came from bake sales, raffles and donations. Martin Resnick, who is known at Riverview as "Uncle Marty," also organized a benefit luncheon for more than 700 people at Martin's West.

"It was a real community effort. Not one person," said Mr. Resnick, who adopted the school a few years ago and supports its students and teachers through incentive programs.

Mr. Resnick and Mr. Porter praised Riverview's staff and administration for its support. One teacher bought 40 luncheon tickets, said Mr. Resnick.

"They realize that this type of experience is very, very valuable," said Mr. Porter. "It's active learning."

Students from two other county schools also placed in the international competition and traveled to New Orleans.

Kitty Huebler, a third-grade teacher at Pot Spring, was in New Orleans with four students who were among the 24 who produced "Touring Baltimore With a Dinosaur," an animated film that even includes clay-animation. It won first place in the mixed media category for kindergarten through third grade.

Several students and their parents were representing Bedford Elementary School, which won a third place for its third-grade production, "Good Morning, Bedford."

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