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Walnut students take top prize in video contest
Students from the top four finalists in the H1N1 video contest — including Walnut Elementary sixth graders Oriana Lopez, Anthony Azamey and Ben Dickson, seated in the front row — sit in the audience at the live press conference at the Capital on Thursday. The students got to experience being on camera, live call-ins from the public, and live streaming onto the Governor’s Web site. - photo by Photo Contributed
Three Walnut Elementary students got a taste of being famous on Thursday when they attended a live press conference to announce their first place award in the California Film Festival contest “Lights, Camera, Save Lives!”
The three main students involved in making the H1N1 Public Service Announcement, Anthony Azamey, Ben Dickson and Oriana Lopez, each received a gold certificate and $500 for their school, said Irene Hales, Walnut Elementary third grade teacher and video coordinator. The money will be used to help out their teachers purchase school supplies.
“It was fun being famous in front of everyone,” Azamey said. “I felt like a movie star. I just wanted to wave and say, ‘Hi people of the United States.’”
At the press conference, the top four H1N1 video contestants were present along with Channel 13 and KCRA Channel 3 television news teams, said Robin Swartz, Walnut Elementary vice principal. A clip of the press conference, along with Walnut Elementary’s H1N1 video, was aired on Channel 3 News on Thursday.  
The other three contestants who placed in the top four were Daniel Natzke from Modesto Junior College, the Nevada Union High School Film Club and Robert Wakamatsu from San Francisco.
“I was so impressed with the creative ways each of the videos conveyed the prevention messages,” said CDPH Director Mark Horton in a press release. “I’m sure this work will help remind Californians how they can stop the spread of H1N1.”
Azamey hopes the video helps people avoid catching the H1N1 virus, he said. He wishes the money they won could go to save the people that caught the H1N1 virus and save lives, but he understands $500 isn’t enough money.
The H1N1 PSA contest had over 100 entries. The top 10 were selected from a panel of marketing professionals and state officials, according to a press release. The public voted for the top four and the public health experts selected the winning video.
Walnut Elementary students were the youngest group who won, Swartz said.
Dickson said he believes that “they were looking for things to help not get H1N1 and we did that.”
“These three (students) got an experience of a lifetime,” Swartz said about Thursday’s ceremony and press conference. “It was an intimate setting. No one got lost in the crowd.”
The Walnut Elementary H1N1 public service announcement will be aired throughout the state and also on YouTube.
To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.