First-graders selected for national film

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Neighbors | Abby Slanker.A C.H. Campbell Elementary School first-grade student answered questions from Anna Sergeeva and Aimee Hoffman as they filmed him for Sergeeva’s film project “If I Were the President” on April 16.


Neighbors | Abby Slanker.A C.H. Campbell Elementary School first-grade student is interviewed for a national art project titled “If I Were the President” on April 16.


Neighbors | Abby Slanker.A film crew including, from left, Juliet Perry, Aimee Hoffman, Anna Sergeeva, Kelly Teacher and Victoria Ramm visited with a C.H. Campbell Elementary School first-grade student during the filming of Sergeeva’s film project “If I Were the President” on April 16.


First-grade students in Alyssa Carbon’s class at C.H. Campbell Elementary School were given an opportunity to express what they would do as President of the United States on April 16.

The students participated in a nationwide art project called “If I Were the President.” The students were selected to be part of the short film which will be featured at the Yerba Buena Center For the Arts in San Francisco.

The goal of the project is to collect the voices of the youth and provide a snapshot of the dreams of this generation.

The short documentary is the brainchild of Anna Sergeeva, an artist, and is based on her project “If I Were the President.”

Sergeeva was inspired by a childhood project.

“In December, I was going through a box of drawings from when I was 5- or 6-years-old. I came across a paper that had the prompt ‘If I were the president…’ and I started to wonder how today’s kids would answer that question. It’s not political in nature, it’s more about what kids are thinking and what they dream about the world being. I wanted to get the perspective of young people because I wanted to let their voices be heard on a national platform,” Sergeeva said.

Sergeeva’s film crew included Kelly Teacher, a documentary film maker from New York. Teacher served as a producer and has known Anna since college.

“I’ve known Anna since college and this is her first film project and I wanted to help her any way I could,” Teacher said.

Serving as director of “If I Were the President” was Aimee Hoffman, of San Francisco, also a filmmaker. Juliet Perry, of Cleveland, assisted in the Ohio section of the film.

Victoria Ramm, formerly of Boardman and now of San Francisco, initiated the students’ participation in the project.

“I’ve known Alyssa since elementary school and I knew her class and C.H. would be the perfect host for filming, and I thought Ohio children may have a different perspective on the subject matter. So I introduced our film group to Alyssa and her students. It‘s a very cool project,” Ramm said.

Sergeeva and Hoffman built a rapport with the students and asked the students to answer three main questions, “If I were the president…,” what they wanted to be when they grow up and what they thought a perfect world would be like. Depending on the students’ answers, they also asked follow-up questions.

“Our goal is to collect a half million youth voices, from ages 5-18. We want to share their voices. We want to know their values and dreams of their future and get them to share that with us. Anyone under 18 who is interested in participating in the film can visit,” Sergeeva said.

Carbon said she feels this is a great opportunity for her students and she is grateful for all the support the project has received.

“This film is an awesome opportunity for my students to voice their opinions and discover what is going on in the minds of young children not tainted by any media. Their parents had to be comfortable with them participating and they have been really supportive. Anyone who wanted to be a part of it could choose to be and the majority of my class wanted to be a part of it,” Carbon said.

Carbon also said the children practiced and prepared before their big day.

“I turned it into a writing assignment and the children put their ideas down on paper. I then conferenced with them one on one to make sure they understood what they were saying, and I understood what they wanted to say, and we did practice interviews. I wanted to make sure they could articulate in their first-grade way and make sense. They had great ideas and I wanted them to know how to express them. I am excited to see the finished product,” Carbon said.

The film crew visited C.H. on their journey to visit schools across the country.

“We started in San Francisco, then went to Boulder, Colo., New Orleans and now Ohio. We are in Canfield today and will move onto Girard and Warren. Our projected delivery to the White House is 2020, in time for the next president. Hopefully we can do that in time,” Sergeeva said.

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