BRADENTON -- Sea Breeze Elementary School students won a first-place prize Friday in a film festival contest in Orlando. It's the first time Manatee County has won the statewide competition in 15 years.
Fourth-grade students Aviona Woods, Samariyah Coleman and Mahalia Hager took first place in the state Jim Harbin Student Film Contest at the 2015 Florida Association for Media in Education Conference.
"Friendship," an entry in the drama category, is the story of two friends meeting and sharing everyday experiences with a third friend
joining in the fun. The girls play jump rope, later have lunch at a round table and ask each other about their families, sports and pets.
"I'm incredibly proud of them," said Sea Breeze media specialist Barbara Biancardi. "They were gracious award winners and they are stellar examples of all our students can do when they create bravely."
The Manatee Association for Media in Education hosts the county festival every spring. Winners at the county level compete at the regional level before moving on to state. This is the first time in a decade a group from Manatee County has gone on to the state level.
On the way home from the event, Samariyah, 10, said she and the other two girls weren't sure how they would do. She said she thought "maybe" they would win. When the girls' names were called, it was a surprise, Samariyah said.
"It was amazing," she said.
Kim Coleman, Samariyah's mother, said the video the girls made was cute.
"I never imagined it would go into something this big," she said.
Shemeka Standifer, Aviona's mother, said she and her husband grew emotional when the winners were announced.
"In this day and age, it's great to see young girls that age creating that bond," Shemeka said.
Aviona, who turns 10 on Monday, said the film was about how people become friends and what friends do together.
"We all become friends," she said.
You can watch the film at http://jhfilmrush.weebly.com/elementary-school-winners.html.
Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter @MeghinDelaney.