Gillian Polakoff, left, discussed her ideas for a documentary she is producing along with fellow Hewlett High School student Jolie Schornstein.
Hewlett High School students Gillian Polakoff, a freshman, and sophomore Jolie Schornstein, collaborated to produce a 10-minute documentary about gay marriage rights, which won first place for their division at Hofstra University on March 9.
Polakoff and Schornstein are participating in a competition sponsored by New York State History Day and National History Day. Each annual competition revolves around a specific theme. This year’s is “Rights and Responsibilities in History.”
The video the girls produced was a result of joining the History Fair Club, an extracurricular club organized. It focuses on gay people’s right to marry, while referring to the landmark 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City that propelled the gay liberation movement forward.
“We’ve worked very hard in creating this documentary,” Polakoff said. “I hope that people will learn more about the Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay and Transsexual (LGBT) movement when they watch it. We hope to make people aware of what’s happening with them and what they go through.”
Polakoff has competed before at the junior level, winning a first place gold medal in 2012 and third place bronze medal in 2013 at the state level before, but hasn’t yet placed at the national level competition in Washington, D.C., she said.
“We’re learning a lot from being in the club and doing this documentary,” Polakoff said. “Most of the other people in the club are juniors and seniors, and we’re the only ones doing a documentary. A lot of the others are creating websites for the competition.”
The girls’ teachers and their school’s administrators are encouraged by their participation in the contest. “On February 4th, the students had to submit their proposals to enter the National History Day contest,” said Mark Secaur, Hewlett-Woodmere School District’s curriculum specialist. “I saw the variety of topics the students chose to cover. I was very impressed.”