Students Win Award at SJSU Environmental Film Festival

Last semester a group of five students from science teacher Shannon Wernette’s second period Earth Science class received an award for the video they submitted to the San Jose State University (SJSU) Green Ninja Film Festival.

The festival was centered around videos starring the fictional character, the Green Ninja, who promotes environmental awareness. The team of five students—freshmen Jackie Roberts and Julian Carbajal, junior Daniela Chavez Preciado and seniors Jendri Quezada and Moises Flores—were awarded “Best Call to Action.”


Over the summer, Wernette attended a workshop at SJSU where she and other teachers learned about the idea of using the “Green Ninja” character to teach students about the importance of being green.

“I thought since the kids are using more iPads and doing more with technology and YouTube, [making Green Ninja videos] would be a good exercise for them to educate the community about climate change,” Wernette said.

Wernette’s students split into groups, all assigned their own video projects. After the videos were created, Wernette contacted Almond Elementary School and set up a block period when her students could visit and teach a sixth grade class about the importance of the environment.

“I wanted to add another component to it,” Wernette said. “If they’re actually making a video to educate the community, why not go out into the community to find people to educate?”

The Process

The group who won the award was led by Daniela, who filmed and edited the video. Moises directed the video and played the antagonist, Jackie played the “Green Ninja,” Jendri played the main character, “Average Joe” and Julian helped with the overall process.

From the beginning, Daniela and her team took the project seriously, knowing that this was their chance to make a difference in the community.

“I’ve kind of always wanted to… help the environment and I realized that this was my chance to do something,” Daniela said. “It became serious after that. Many [of my] classmates were being goofy and making silly projects but I really wanted to do something serious.”

Wernette submitted all of her groups’ videos and was contacted by the judges from the competition two weeks later.

“The people who are in charge of the competition contacted Wernette back and said if we made edits to our video, we could be entered in the [final] competition,” Moises said.

The group reviewed its video and then made necessary changes.

“We re-filmed some parts of the video that were underexposed,” Daniela said. “We originally filmed during the nighttime so we went back and filmed and I re-edited it into a better video. Then it got submitted into the final contest.”

Winning the Award

After resubmitting the video, the students were notified of their win through Wernette who announced to the class that one of the groups had won an award.

The team was invited to the SJSU campus for the viewing party where the award winners would be announced. Unfortunately, a last minute car issue prevented all the team except for Daniela from attending.

“There was a ceremony at San Jose [State] University and I went with Ms. Wernette and my parents–unfortunately everyone else was going in Moises’ car and it broke down on the way there,” Daniela said.

After all the videos played, the panel of judges announced that Daniela’s group had won the award for “Best Call to Action.”

“They called me up and I went in front of the whole group of people and I didn’t know what to say in front of so many people…[but] I gave a speech about winning the award and thanked Ms. Wernette and my peers who couldn’t make it,” Daniela said.

Overall, Wernette’s efforts to integrate curriculum, technology and community involvement were a success.

“It really opened my eyes and made me realize I can do something to help,” Daniela said. “[The final product] made me really proud… What’s important [to me] is helping the Earth and making a difference.”