Local High School Seniors’ Documentary Wins $5,000 Grand Prize

GRIMES, Iowa  --  Two Dallas Center-Grimes high school seniors won a $5,000 grand prize in a national C-SPAN documentary contest.

There were 150 national winners from nearly 3,000 submissions. C-SPAN said the Dallas Center-Grimes senior’s documentary called “Old Enough to Fight, Old Enough to Vote” on the 26th amendment really stood out.

The prompt was to choose a provision of the U.S. Constitution and make a 5 to 7-minute video of why it is important to you. Adam Koch and Tyler Cooney chose the 26th amendment, the right of U.S. citizens ages 18 and older to vote. Koch and Cooney are the first Iowans to be crowned grand champions of C-SPAN’s documentary competition. The seniors spent more than four months preparing and interviewing for their documentary. They interviewed politicians and lawmakers from all over the country. They said the documentary taught them some very important life lessons.

“You don’t have to be 30 some years old in a job to do something that can impact people around you,” Cooney said.

“It was also a good way for us to educate our peers and especially 17 and 18-year old's because this midterm election we have coming up this is going to be very important election for us turning 18 because this is the first time we can vote it’s a big turning point in the political world so it’s something that really, we all need to be educated about,” Koch said.

The seniors said they hope the documentary helps educate their peers on the importance of voting.

“There’s lots of people that don’t utilize it, that don’t value it and so I think it’s really cool to hear from some people about how important it really is to vote,” Cooney said.

“We were in a government class and I remember the first or second day our teacher said how many of you are interested or how many of you are going to vote and it surprised me how few hands went up but as I see through social media and through just the rest of the country it seems like the idea of 18-year old’s picking up this idea of wanting to vote is just increasing, increasing,” Koch said.

C-SPAN said choosing Cooney and Koch’s documentary was easy because they followed the prompt, were between 5 and 7 minutes in length, didn’t use any profanities and included C-SPAN footage in their documentary.

“Adam and Tyler's documentary really captured the essence of what we hope to see from students each year in our StudentCam competition. Their video is an engaging exploration of an issue that they are passionate about, and garners the opinions of experts and elected officials to help them tell the story of why the voting rights of citizens who are 18 years old is something that should be important to all Americans,” C-SPAN Manager of Education Relations Craig McAndrew said.

Koch and Cooney said the $5,000 prize is going toward their college funds. To view their full documentary, click here. It will also air on C-SPAN throughout the day on April 22nd.