AEA system recognized for role in success of student who wins C-SPAN award

(L to R) Dr. Roark Horn, AEA 267 Chief Administrator; Ethan Self; Melissa Benning, Ethan’s AEA 267 Speech Language Pathologist; Mary Hanneman, AEA 267 Team Representative to Aplington-Parkersburg; and Kristi Tomson, Ethan’s AEA 267 Speech Language Pathologist from his early years in school.

(L to R) Dr. Roark Horn, AEA 267 Chief Administrator; Ethan Self; Melissa Benning, Ethan’s AEA 267 Speech Language Pathologist; Mary Hanneman, AEA 267 Team Representative to Aplington-Parkersburg; and Kristi Tomson, Ethan’s AEA 267 Speech Language Pathologist from his early years in school.

A high school student from Aplington-Parkersburg Community School District, who dreams of one day becoming the next Steven Spielberg, was awarded a $750 prize this week by C-SPAN for a video he produced about how the Americans with Disabilities Act  (ADA) has changed his life and the lives of others. Ethan Self, a senior who has struggled with apraxia of speech since the age of four, acknowledged the services of the Area Education Agency (AEA) system, and specifically his speech language pathologist, Melissa Benning, during his acceptance speech which was attended by classmates, elected officials, family members, and C-SPAN representatives.

“I want to first thank anyone in the AEA who has helped me [throughout] my entire life,” said Self. “I thought about how the government has helped with my disorder and how I get through school and I decided to do a film about that. What I learned…it’s not about me…it shows how the Americans with Disabilities Act has helped students with disabilities to get through school and get into their life and go chase their dreams…to get an opportunity…everyone deserves an opportunity…whether they want to be a doctor, an actor or a U.S. Marine, it’s important for us to go out there with a purpose.”

The C-Span StudentCam Video Contest is an annual video documentary competition offering students the opportunity to work individually or in groups. This year’s students were asked to answer the question, “How has policy, law, or action by either the executive, legislative, or judicial branch affected your or your community?” The competition received submissions from 45 states, Washington, DC, and Taiwan. Over 5,000 students participated submitting 2,280 videos marking a record number of entries. Ethan took third place with his entry.

According to Craig McAndrew, C-SPAN Manager of Education, “Ethan did a terrific job of relaying his personal story and how the issues affect him while exploring national policy and its implementation in Iowa.”

Ethan plans to attend Ellsworth College in Iowa Falls and later transfer to Liberty College in Virginia to study film studies. We couldn’t be more proud of his efforts! Look out Steven Spielberg, competition is coming your way! Watch the awards ceremony, including Ethan’s award-winning video, to be inspired.

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