Amping Up Test
2021 Middle School Winners
Strengthening Global Health
By: Kennedy Merkel
Kennedy Merkel is a 7th grade student at Shorewood Intermediate School in Shorewood, Wisconsin, which she describes as “a great community.” Sarah Kopplin, Kennedy’s teacher, assigned the contest and had students start work on their videos months ahead of the deadline. Kennedy shared that Mrs. Kopplin “chunked out the contest into easy steps.” The inspiration for her video was unexpected. “Just a couple of days before I found out about the assignment, I was eating lunch, when I saw the postman dropping off the mail and I thought to myself, it’s nice that postal workers go to every house, even in rural areas, every day.” It was around this time that there was news that many people were not getting tested for COVID and Kennedy made the connection that postal workers could be the answer. She knew that population is growing and that there are challenges with the continued growth, but the contest presented an opportunity to learn more.
Along with her brother, Kennedy has been producing videos from a young age and considers filmmaking a hobby. She hasn’t won any previous awards for her films, but she has won an award for an essay she wrote about backpacking with her dad in the Porcupine Mountains in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Despite her prior experience with filmmaking, this contest presented a challenge with the 60-second time limit. “I had an entire script written out and when I timed it, it was like 5-minutes.” She revised her script and took out unnecessary words and focused on hitting her main points.
Kennedy is active in extracurricular activities including her school’s environmental and drama clubs. She has her black belt in taekwondo, has been playing violin for 8 years, and recently took up tennis She really enjoys spicy food and especially Bibimpap with red chili sauce. She and her family enjoy spending time outdoors. “It’s a family tradition to go backpacking in Isle Royale National Park every summer. It’s very cool and you’re almost guaranteed to see a moose!” A benefit of remote learning during the pandemic has been spending time with her mom who is a major source of inspiration. “Now that we’re virtual she works at home and I’ve seen how well she works with her co-workers. She is also a great writer and helps me with my writing. She is basically like my school counselor and helps me with everything!”
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