Anyone curious about the minds of teenagers should take time to visit the Future Voices of New Mexico website. There, you can see the short videos and photographs made by young people from New Mexico — the 2014 winners were announced last week and should be up early in April.
The project — to give young people the tools to tell their stories — brings together filmmakers, teachers and different cultural groups. Marcella Ernest and Christopher Michael Roybal are in charge of filmmaking, and Santa Fe Photo Workshops is the photography partner, along with director Reid Callanan. These professionals and others they recruit go out into the schools, meeting with teachers and students to enable them to tell stories.
For students, in addition to monthly and then year-end recognition, their work is shown at the Lensic Performing Arts Center in an awards ceremony packed with emotion, creativity and joy. At 12 or 15 or 17, a student gets to look up on the big screen and see his or her work displayed proudly, on the same stage where Ralph Stanley has played music or Jeremy Irons interpreted Alfred Stieglitz to Joan Allen’s Georgia O’Keeffe.
The winners, announced last week, featured work from creative young minds at the top of their games. Winners came from a broad variety of schools — Capital High School, Española Valley High School, Pojoaque Valley High, Santa Fe School for the Arts and Sciences and Desert Academy. Students from Albuquerque won prizes as well, with students from the state-chartered New Mexico School for the Arts, located in Santa Fe but with students from all over the state, taking home honors. The winners represented public, private and charter schools, but all shared a common bond, the ability — even the need — to tell stories. That shone through in both single images or three-minute shorts.
Judge for yourselves, and visit www.futurevoicesof newmexico.org. Winners from past years remain up, and organizers of the contest expected the 2014 batch to be posted this week. With all the wringing of hands over the state of teenagers, do yourself a favor. Take time to watch and see. You’ll feel better about the future.
Santa Fe spellers w-i-n
Creativity takes many forms, of course. One form can be capturing the world in visual form. Another, though, is the curiosity to seek the meaning and origins of words. Santa Fe should be proud of its representatives at the recent state spelling bee. Desert Academy seventh-grader Anish Kumar won the New Mexico Spelling Bee, while Carlos Gilbert Elementary School fourth-grader Joaquin Bas took third.
That is a wonderful achievement for both young men and for Santa Fe. Anish will represent New Mexico in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., later this year, a rare opportunity. The skills he is mastering will last a lifetime. Learning to spell, after all, is about more than memorization. It is an exploration of language, culture and history. Top spellers combine intelligence and intuition with the ability to think fast on their feet.
We congratulate both winners and look forward to a potential rematch next year at the Santa Fe County Spelling Bee — after all, the national bee is open to students in fourth to eighth grades. That means both Anish and Joaquin could return in 2015 with, we are sure, dozens of other hungry young spellers nipping at their feet.