Two students from Pleasanton high schools have recently gained national attention for their unique talents.

Jacob Baer, an incoming junior at Amador Valley High School, has created a heartwarming and educational video highlighting what life is like for children whose parents are deaf.

The video, titled "CODA Pride," with CODA representing "Children of Deaf Adults," was selected by the All-American High School Film Festival to be screened in late October at the AMC Empire Theaters in New York City's Times Square.

The festival committee selected the video from among thousands of submissions from more than 45 states and 15 countries.

Along with Baer and his parents, his sisters Rachel and Sarah appear in the film, along with several other Pleasanton students, including Dante Brooke, Jackson Anderson-Kovacs, Danielle Moyers, Jarod Moyers and Jessica Smario.

The nine-minute documentary shares the universal experiences and bilingual pride of children who can hear but whose parents are deaf. Several of the children interviewed report that English is their second language since as toddlers they first learned to communicate through American Sign Language. The documentary powerfully challenges stereotypes, showing that being deaf is not a disability.


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"I love seeing students use their creativity and passion," said Pleasanton Superintendent Parvin Ahmadi. "Congratulations to all students who were involved. We are fortunate to have such wonderful students who will continue to make this a better world."

All-American High School Film Festival, founded more than a decade ago by award-winning filmmaker Andrew Jenks, states its mission as "Giving serious young filmmakers cutting-edge opportunities to showcase and advance their craft."

Presidential scholar: The other Pleasanton student to gain national recognition is 2014 Foothill High School graduate Annie Wu who was honored this summer in Washington D.C. as a presidential scholar.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced that Wu was selected from some 3,900 qualified candidates, joining 140 other outstanding American high school seniors who received the prestigious award.

Teens selected for the honor must demonstrate outstanding academic achievement, artistic excellence, leadership, citizenship, service and contribution to school and community.

Along with her academics and volunteer work at Museum On Main in Pleasanton, Wu was selected based on her amazing ability to play the flute. In fact, she has performed twice at Carnegie Hall, the first time at age 12 when she won first prize in the American Fine Arts Competition.

In addition, Wu won first prize in the National Flute Association's High School Soloist Competition, making her the youngest person to win this award. She has performed with symphonies in San Francisco, Washington, D.C., London and Moscow.

According to Duncan, "The extraordinary young men and women being honored for the 50th anniversary of the presidential scholars have excelled in their educational, artistic and civic pursuits."

He added that these students demonstrate that committing oneself to excellence can create "astounding" results that "help move our country forward and will have lasting impact on their families, communities and our society."

Congratulations to these two Pleasanton teens. We are so proud of you!

Contact Jim Ott at jimott@sbcglobal.net.

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See Amador High junior Jacob Baer's video online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4pftInBwWs.