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41° Good Afternoon

"We Starts With Me" among winners of White House Student Film Festival

Teacher Diane Bramble, on left, with Sadie Melendez,

Teacher Diane Bramble, on left, with Sadie Melendez, 8, and her mom, Rachel Lederman posing with a cut-out of President Barack Obama at the Friends School in Boulder Colorado. The film they worked on with a music teacher and 17 students, "We Starts With Me" will be screened Friday, March 20, at the 2nd Annual White House Student Film Festival. Story by Sheila Anne Feeney. Photo Credit: courtesy of Popular Press Media

Welcome to the White House!

Eight-year-old Sadie Melendez and her mom, Rachel Lederman, who have dual residencies in Washington Heights and Boulder, Colorado, will be at the White House Friday accepting kudos for the film, "We Starts With Me," one of 15 finalists in the 2nd Annual White House Student Film Festival.

President Barack Obama had asked for entries that highlight the impact of volunteering and community service and "giving back."

The short music video features 18 exuberant second graders at Boulder's private Friends School interviewing each other about improving the world ("if we get together and help each other, things could start to change"), bright lyrics ("we care to share/we live to give/back to community") and a bouncy, child-friendly tune.

"We Starts With Me" was made in eight days on a mini iPad 2 with an iOgrapher rig, said Lederman, who founded and owns Sweet Sadie Inc., a creative/production agency in New York City. "Someone donated a drone for our shoot ... and we figured out how to spell out 'we' and 'me' with our bodies with the drone shooting above us," Lederman said. Most of the time, though, the kids were behind the lens and holding the mic, she said.

Sadie, who appears in "We Starts With Me," hopes the video will inspire children in her age group to help others. Kids can "take out the garbage" or "if someone drops something, you can pick it up for them," she suggested. She added wistfully that they could also walk a dog, if they were lucky enough to have one -- a chore she was particularly keen to perform.

Sadie and her classmates learned that moviemaking is fun, but also hard work -- just like most worthwhile endeavors. While the children initially competed to be in the "recycling shoot" or "play with the earth ball," by the fourth day of filming "they were like, 'unhhhh!'" Lederman recounted, as they realized movie making "is not always glamorous."

Only three people associated with the film were permitted to go to the White House, said Lederman, noting that Sadie's teacher, Diane Bramble, is also attending the screening. Sadie's classmates were disappointed they couldn't attend as well. They got excited some time back when "a third grader won a regional spelling bee, but this is bigger," Sadie said.

Sadie has her "fancy dress" picked out to meet President Obama, who she praised for helping homeless people and Americans who lacked health insurance, but another occupant at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. was most top of mind. "Obama has a dog!" enthused Sadie, alluding to Bo, the Portuguese water dog the Obamas adopted in 2009. "I hope he brings the dog," she said, "because I love animals."


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