What started out as an afterschool group at Sacred Heart High School ten years ago has now transformed into an award-winning fine arts elective that is inspiring young filmmakers to create life-affirming stories, images and scenarios.Indeed, the Sacred Heart Video Production class has been in the spotlight this school year with three of its student videos garnering national exposure, prizes and accolades.The Automobile Club of Southern California (AAA) selected their efforts as the grand-prize winner from more than 100 student submissions in the AAA Teen Video Contest for their “Road to Bollywood” piece. The Lincoln Heights school received $2,500 which is being earmarked toward new software for digital editing.Sacred Heart’s entry “In Your Hands” was chosen to be a part of this year’s Latin American Cinemateca of Los Angeles’(LACLA) Student Film Festival.  Earlier, this piece won second place prize from the Intercommunity Peace and Justice Center.And finally, video production students were awarded Honorable Mention for a C-SPAN documentary on gun control, “Guns and Coffee.” C-SPAN received more than 1,200 entries this year in this nationwide contest and awarded only 75 prizes including a $250 award for the Sacred Heart team.“The class gives them a chance to work on skills for the 21st century,” says instructor Jeannie Reese who, along with her husband Jeff, has taught the class. “The media is so popular and can be used in so many ways from light-hearted fun to informative and challenging.”With a smaller class this school year, Reese decided to use the many video contests available as a springboard for project ideas. She picked the contests and had her students pitch ideas on what they would do for the video. The result was three distinct videos that used the media for important messages. The team responsible for “Guns and Coffee” — directed by seniors Tahiez Toro, Laura Munoz, and Nicole Richardson — conducted on-camera interviews with students, parents, teachers and a local law enforcement official.“In Your Hands” — directed by Veronica Lara, Victoria Avila and Jennifer Perea — is an artistic and innovative depiction of the creation of the world as well as a plea for environmental stewardship.The danger of driving distracted is the message behind “The Road to Bollywood” — directed by Danessa Inguito and Lisa Jimenez — which tells a short story, with an infectious dance beat,  about a Bollywood dance troupe that drives recklessly to a dance competition.The video production class has certainly changed throughout the years. The first projects tended to focus on the school as more of an internal vehicle for communicating news. “We are now involved in the community more, being out there,” says Reese.“I think the students finish the class with a better understanding on how powerful the communication medium it is,” she adds.  When their videos are put on a big screen (as with the case of “Bollywood” which has been played regularly on the Jumbotron at Dodger Stadium), the girls see the viewers’ reactions. “Being a Catholic school, we try to make what we believe in, the values we hold, part of the message,” says Reese. “We strive for positive messages and that is so important today when you have to sift through so much [negative influences] to get to ideas and stories that are worth your time. We want our students to go out there and make a difference.”{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2012/0622/sgaaa/{/gallery}