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Zooming in on community

David Schommer was named one of the top two youth volunteers of 2011 by the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards for his video work and public service efforts. Staff photo by Riham Feshir

Ever since he was a 10-year-old using his little handycam, David Schommer knew he wanted to be a filmmaker.

Whether that's documenting the local Relay for Life event, taping the Sunday service at church or making a video for the freshmen class to learn about school clubs, it's in his blood.

"It kind of stuck with me and I've been doing it ever since," the 18-year-old Woodbury High School senior said.

Schommer was named one of Minnesota's top two youth volunteers by the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism.

"I didn't really think much of it, I have a lot on my mind," Schommer said. "I was surprised when I found out I won the award."

The teen has been busy applying for colleges and anxiously awaiting a response from the University of Southern California film school.

Schommer is a volunteer for Woodbury Lutheran Church, taping the Sunday service every week for the church's podcast. He did a video for the South Washington County Relay for Life event in 2011 that featured volunteers, survivors and participants.

Most recently, Schommer taped the Read-A-Thon program at the R.H. Stafford Library, which featured local celebrities reading to children.

One of his projects last year was a public service announcement about water conservation. He said he documented ways in which water is not conserved in an effort to show how much water is being wasted every day and what to do to avoid it.

Schommer said shooting and editing video with sound, music, people's words and emotions right on camera is a passion of his.

"Video gets you as close as you can get without actually being there," he said. "I like to make people think about things. I like to create passion in people."

One of his favorite events was shooting Relay for Life last summer. He took all of the footage, picked out the best scenes and edited a video for the organization.

"Just to show what happens at Relay for Life, what people are doing, what they're feeling, what they're saying ...

"I like to inspire people."

He also did that this year by producing a program for Woodbury High School's freshmen class to show them what getting involved in the various school clubs is all about.

He also produced, directed and edited the Royal Broadcasting Network, which he said was about "increasing school spirit and connecting the kids."

Although Schommer is focused on film, he's has been accepted to the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus.

"I would like to pursue film, however, I have a passion for entrepreneurship and that kind of creativity," he said. "I like to be ambitious and daring."

Always ready with a video camera in hand, Schommer taught himself a lot about editing and composition.

As he walks through the hallways of his school, friends and classmates almost always know he's working on something new and creative.

"Hey, David how is the movie going?" asked one classmate last week.

Even though he's still young and is unsure of whether or not he'll pursue film professionally just yet, he's certain about one thing.

"I'm sure I'll find a way to incorporate video in my life no matter what I do," Schommer said.

Schommer, along with Michael Heim, a 14-year-old from Sartell, Minn., were the top two youth volunteers selected by the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards.

Each of them will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense paid trip in early May to Washington, D.C., where they will join the top two honorees from each of the other states and the District of Columbia for several days of national recognition events.

Schommer's award drew praise from U.S. Sen. Al Franken.

"David Schommer has an impressive combination of academic and community accomplishments and should be lauded for his efforts," Franken said through a news release.

Chloe Richter, also a senior at Woodbury High School, has been awarded a Certificate of Excellence at the state level.

She and Schommer both qualify for the President's Volunteer Service Award, which recognizes Americans of all ages who have volunteered significant amounts of their time to serve their communities and their country.

Riham Feshir
Riham Feshir is a reporter and photographer for the Woodbury Bulletin. Her coverage includes Woodbury City Hall, Washington County Board of Commissioners and business news.  Follow Riham on Twitter @RihamFeshir for the latest updates.