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'The best kept secrets in the state line area' - - Student produced documentaries will showcase this weekend


A northern Illinois high school documentary project that started out highlighting veterans has changed its focus a bit. A festival for these films is taking place later this week.

The Harlem Veteran Project started in 2008 at Harlem High School in Machesney Park, Illinois. It originally focused only on veterans’ stories.

Nicholas Stange is one of the teachers for the documentary class. He said the students came up with the idea to venture away from those.

“A student I had last year,” he said, “when he was talking about documentary class, he's like, ‘hey, I know it's dealing with veterans primarily, but I would love to do it on my community.’ And that's kind of where we, that was one of the catalysts for kind of shifting the focus to not only veterans, but other stories in the community.”

Stange said these films are the "best kept secrets of the state line area."

“I think people are kind of always thinking this is a student, okay, it's a student project, it would be nice and cute,” he said. But the majority of these doc's are done at a professional level.”

The programs start at 6 Friday evening and ends on Sunday with an awards ceremony. The full schedule can be found at the Harlem Veteran Project Facebook page.

  • Yvonne Boose is a former corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project. It's a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms like WNIJ. You can learn more about Report for America at wnij.org.
Yvonne covers artistic, cultural, and spiritual expressions in the COVID-19 era. This could include how members of community cultural groups are finding creative and innovative ways to enrich their personal lives through these expressions individually and within the context of their larger communities. Boose is a recent graduate of the Illinois Media School and returns to journalism after a career in the corporate world.