Dartmouth High School sophomores win second prize at statewide multimedia contest

Nov 15, 2023

After winning second prize for their video public service announcement on sportsmanship, Dartmouth High School sophomores Molly Cunningham and Tabitha Cabral-Elliott were invited to Gillette Stadium to accept the award among 1,000 other students and parents.

During the awards ceremony, something unexpected happened: The presenters played Cunningham and Cabral-Elliot’s PSA in full to the crowd on the stadium’s giant screen. 

“I was really nervous and it was in front of a bunch of teenagers … it was very surprising,” Cunningham said. 

“When it's all kids the same age who judge you in the same way you judge yourself, it’s very nerve wracking,” Cabral-Elliott said.

But the awkward moment paid off, literally — each student received $100 along with the award. 

The winning video answers the question posed by the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association: “How can you use social media to positively promote sportsmanship in your school?”

The Sportsmanship Multimedia Contest was not something that Cabral-Elliott or Cunningham were planning on competing in. In fact, they only found out about the contest a week before they submitted their final draft, when media teacher Rob Perrotti asked whether they were interested in the project. 

“We did not expect to win at all or even place,” Cunningham said. 

“I guess we kind of under[estimated] how well we did,” Cabral-Elliott said. “It was thrown together in a very short period of time … we were working on other projects at the time.”

As for the video’s idea, the pair “just kind of plucked it out of thin air,” Cabral-Elliott said. 

The two students kept the video short and sweet. It clocks in at just under one minute and quickly explains how social media can be both a tool for building sportsmanship and a harmful force if used incorrectly. 

To start, Cabral-Elliot and Cunningham speak directly to the camera in front of DHSTVMedia’s green screen. The video then dissolves into stock footage and Dartmouth High School sports footage, with the students’ voiceovers behind it. 

“[Social media] can be used for plenty of different purposes, from sharing memories to spreading messages,” Cabral-Elliott said in the video. 

The purpose of the PSA is to celebrate social media as a tool for scholastic sportsmanship. 

“A lot of people see that social media is bad in general, but they don’t see how it can benefit,” Cunningham said. 

The video is Cunningham’s first entree into on-screen performance. She typically prefers to be behind the camera and in the editing booth. 

“She has never been in front of the camera before and she did amazing,” Cabral-Elliot said. 

But the PSA was also the first time Cunningham won a cash award for one of her projects, so this may be the start of a lucrative new pursuit for the sophomore. 

“The first time Molly appeared in front of the camera, we won,” Cabral-Elliot said. 

Neither student said they were interested in film or film production before taking the broadcast production class, but now both intend to continue with the elective for the rest of high school — Cunningham would consider pursuing film editing even further. 

And now that Cunningham and Cabral-Elliott know they have the chops to win an MIAA award, they’re “definitely” interested in submitting again next year. 

“We’ll do better,” Cunningham said. “We’ll try even harder.”