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The Paly Voice

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Sophomores’ first-place documentary to air on TV

Brendan Giang
Palo Alto High School sophomores Brendan Giang (left), Emily Tang (center), and Max Reiter (right) pose in a group photo for the C-SPAN StudentCam competition website after their documentary won first place last month. Giang said the project, titled “Threads of Change,” highlights global efforts to improve environmental sustainability in the fashion industry. “Our documentary takes a critical look at what have we done to battle climate change and, specifically in fast fashion, what we as consumers can do,” Giang said. “If everyone takes a small step to make a small change, together, we can make a pretty powerful difference.”

“Our planet, a tapestry of life, is woven from countless threads, actions and decisions, each holding the power to shape our future. But this tapestry is fraying – threads strained by the weight of our choices, our challenges, and our mistakes. Our tapestry can no longer sustain the richness and diversity it once held.”

“Threads of Change,” a documentary created by a group of Palo Alto High School students, won first place in the national C-SPAN StudentCam competition last month, and aired on the C-SPAN television networks yesterday.

Produced by Social Justice Pathway sophomores Brendan Giang, Emily Tang and Max Reiter, the documentary responds to the competition prompt: “In the next 20 years, what is the most important change that you would like to see in America?”

Rich with dynamic visuals and empowering words, the project shines light on the environmental impacts of fast fashion and the clothing industry. Giang said the group settled on this issue after seeing how many people directly impact the environment through their clothing choices.

“We thought, what about climate change?” Giang said. “Can we tackle it? Because we’re students – we’re not rocket scientists and we’re not nuclear fusion researchers. But what is something that every person interacts with every day? The closet and their clothes: something that we all wear, we buy and we sell.”

Once the idea took root, the students embarked on an extensive process of researching, interviewing, scripting, filming and video editing. According to Tang, communication and collaboration were key to ultimately produce a successful, award-winning video.

“Making the video definitely allowed me to grow as a teammate, because in a way, we really had to [be a team],” Tang said. “We were checking in with each other periodically just to see how each of us were doing and how we were progressing with the project, since it was over such a long span of time.”

Reflecting on the win, Giang said he is grateful for his team and their accomplishments.

“I was pretty proud of what we had done, especially since it was our first time making a documentary,” Giang said. “I had no clue how it would place and I was so very happy that the judges thought it was good.”

Social Justice Pathway teacher Austin Davis praised the students for their work and success, particularly for how they delivered the message.

“Something that I noticed about the first-prize video is they had a story to tell,” David said. “There was a real story arc, and they presented a clear problem, and then how one might go about solving it. They did a really good job of delivering that message and illustrating to the audience in an engaging way why we should care about this and what we can do about it.”

According to Giang, the documentary’s lasting message is for individuals to embrace an optimistic mindset in fighting climate change, instead of simply giving up.

“A lot of these big issues are so insurmountable, and all we get is this doom-and-gloom messaging,” Giang said. “‘Climate change is going to kill the Earth in 20 years, and if we don’t do something, it’s okay, because I’m not going to single-handedly cut the world’s emissions by 50% in the next year. So I shouldn’t do anything because I can’t.’ That’s not the attitude we want. Climate change is a problem, but there’s something that we can do about it.”

The students’ documentary can viewed on the C-SPAN website.

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About the Contributor
Kristine Lin
Kristine Lin, Managing Editor
Kristine Lin (Class of 2025) joined The Paly Voice her sophomore year. Outside of journalism, she enjoys going on scenic hikes, taking road trips, and traveling to new places.

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