HEAL Film Fest

Students and staff members from Sierra Middle School celebrate earning “Oscar” awards for their student-produced, health-related short films at the Fifth Annual Healthy Eating and Active Living (HEAL) Film Festival.

As part of a districtwide effort to highlight the importance of proper nutrition and physical activity, budding filmmakers from four Las Cruces Public Schools (LCPS) middle schools premiered their student-produced short films at the Fifth Annual Healthy Eating and Active Living (HEAL) Film Festival, Thursday, May 11 in the LCPS Administration Building Board Room.

“All of the students did a wonderful job,” said Claire LeGault, the LCPS Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Education (SNAP-Ed) program manager. “They developed some great ideas about incorporating good nutrition and physical activity practices into their everyday lives, and it was exciting to see the thoughtfulness and creativity that went into these films.”

The festival featured a keynote speech by Ross Mark, an assistant professor at New Mexico State University’s Creative Media Institute and the executive director of the Las Cruces International Film Festival, and opening remarks by LCPS Director of Secondary Instruction Wendi Hammond. Both speakers encouraged the students to pursue their dreams and utilize media to help change the world.

Several of the short films were also recognized at an awards ceremony immediately following the screening. “Surprise” a short film created by Jaime Prieto and Kendra Van Doon, both eighth-grade students at Sierra Middle School (SMS), earned the Best Healthy Eating Video award; “Healthy Living” a short film created by Gia Hernandez, Alisa Chavez, Esperanza Sapian and Raquel Guebara, all seventh-grade students at SMS, earned the Best Active Living Video award; “Twilight Year” a short film created by Summer Arroyos and Evelyn Martinez, both seventh-grade students at SMS, earned the Best Creative Achievement award; and “Leave Me Alone” a short film created by Andrew Tavarez, an eighth-grade student at SMS, earned the Best Technological Achievement award.

All of the award-winning filmmakers were given a commemorative “Oscar” award for their winning entries, and the students who had their film screened at the festival were awarded a commemorative medal. The winning short films were created by students from Camino Real Middle School, Mesa Middle School, SMS and Zia Middle school.

A total of eight short films were selected for the festival by staff members from the LCPS Nutrition Services Department. All of the short films screened at the festival can be viewed by visiting: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL8ykZn4ogw7K8k7MkXhu7WSbCC6Ia9O3x

The film festival was part of the LCPS Nutrition Services Department’s ongoing effort to encourage healthy lifestyle choices across the school district. In addition to the film festival, the department recently held a writing contest to encourage students to use school salad bars.

Funding for the festival was provided by grants from the Paso Del Norte Health Foundation (PDNHF) and SNAP-Ed. The PDNHF is a private foundation which supports health and wellness initiatives in West Texas, Southern New Mexico, and Ciudad Juárez, México. SNAP-Ed is a federally funded grant program that supports evidence-based nutrition education and obesity prevention interventions and projects for persons eligible for the SNAP through complementary direct education, multi-level interventions, and community and public health approaches to improve nutrition, according to the USDA website.

For more information, contact LCPS Communications Coordinator Paul Dahlgren, pdahlgren@lcps.net, (575) 527-5808.