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Chesterfield Students Win Award for Documentary On Gun Violence

The Matoaca Middle schoolers entry beat out over 1,200 other submissions.

Chesterfield County students Kennedy Coffin and Ella Hoskin recently won third place for a documentary that looks at the balance between gun violence and gun rights.  

It was for a contest  sponsored by C-SPAN that asked students, “What issue would you like the new President and Congress to address in 2021?” 

The two 8th graders from Matoaca Middle School had a long list of topics they thought would make a good documentary. But in the end, they said the issues around guns became the most important. 

“Especially with everything going on in our community and around our world, it was very important for us to address this issue,” Coffin said. 

After months of interviews and work with the help of their teachers, they produced “Aim for What? Finding the Balance Between Gun Violence and Rights.” 

The 6-minute documentary includes interviews with police officers, Rep. Donald McEachin and a witness of the Virginia Tech shooting.  

It was a difficult subject to investigate said Hoskin, who added that they didn’t want to offend anyone. 

“Gun rights and gun safety, they both have so many results and you have to sort through it. So, at the beginning, it was kind of sorting through and picking what we needed to say to remain unbiased,” Hoskin said. 

Their entry beat out over 1,200 other submissions and won them $750, which they both say they intend to save. The pair received congratulations from McEachin and county officials. Plus, they also received a special recognition certificate from Governor Ralph Northam. 

A third Matoaca Middle School student, Kessler Hedblom, won Honorable Mention for his video, “The Cybersecurity Crisis.” 

The award-winning video can be  viewed hereContent Warning: Discussions of suicide and gun violence.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 to speak to a certified listener. Veterans and service members can press 1. To connect to someone by text, send HELLO to 741741. It is free, available 24/7, and confidential. 

Ian M. Stewart is the transportation reporter and fill-in anchor for VPM News.
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