Some Johnstown-Monroe High School students are heading to Portland, Oregon, with their film that has been chosen as a finalist in the International Youth Silent Film Festival contest.

Some Johnstown-Monroe High School students are heading to Portland, Oregon, with their film that has been chosen as a finalist in the International Youth Silent Film Festival contest.

The student filmmakers are part of an inaugural Film II: The Art of Storytelling Through Production class taught by Tara White.

They are seeking contributions to defray costs of the trip at gofundme.com/Film2IYSFF.

Principal Derick Busenburg said the students submitted a silent film for the contest, and they learned May 6 that they were selected as a finalist for the Pacific Northwest region. The class missed the deadline for the Midwest region because the course had just begun.

The video submission will be viewed May 25 with other regional finalists at Hollywood Theatre in Portland, Busenburg said.

"Our students are incredibly excited, and they are hopeful their silent-film submission will advance from the regional level to the international level, where it would be judged again in June," he said.

White said she and her students are excited about the contest.

"This is the first year we've had this elective," she said. "The is the first class of students I've taught film studies. It seems like so many things fell in place for this."

She said 10 students were in Film Studies I in the fall, and most of those students wanted to continue, so Film Studies II was offered midyear.

The three students who helped create the silent film and who will be on the trip are senior Hannah Kenney, junior Laura Cox and sophomore Sarah Wirth.

Kenney said the idea for the silent film, titled "Epidemic," was hers.

"I thought of the movie, 'Contagion,' " she said. "In that movie, there's a disease outbreak. It's more of an airborne sort of thing. I suggested a disease outbreak where you touch someone."

Because the film is in black and white, Kenney said, the class decided to show the transfer of the disease in color.

"We really worked hard on it," she said. "We had a great time with it."

Kenney said the film-studies class is her favorite high school elective.

"I'm going to (Ohio University) for broadcast journalism," she said. "I'm super excited."

Kenney said the group spent more than 60 hours on the film.

"We sat down all together and decided on the idea," she said. "Another night, we planned it out second by second with the music. We filmed and edited in one week all around town."

While the students are in Oregon, they will film their experiences.

"We will show what we got to experience," Kenney said.

After the board's May 9 approval of the Oregon trip, the students and White began scrambling to raise $2,500 for expenses.

In addition to the GoFundMe page, the class will sell candy bars.

"The girls are planning to work for people in neighborhoods to raise funds," White said. "We will also sell candy bars. I will have a tent in Sunbury this Sunday (May 15) at the spring bazaar (on the square)."

White sells repurposed bottles from her Etsy shop, called Tipsy Treasures.

"Most of the proceeds from the bazaar go to the American Cancer Society," she said.

In addition to film studies, the Delaware resident teaches English and literature at the high school. She's currently in her second year of teaching in Johnstown. She previously taught five years at Ontario High School.

Busenburg said so many students have requested the film-studies courses next year that three sections are being offered. Even with three sections, some students were closed out of the class, he said.

"I think that speaks volumes about the work of our teacher, Tara White, and the value our students are getting from these courses," he said.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla