Winning awards is nothing new for RBTV.

But this year RBTV had a particularly good haul at the annual national Hometown Video Festival. Students and staff from Riverside-Brookfield High School won four first-place awards in June.

The awards are intended to honor and promote community media and cable programs that are distributed on public, educational and government access cable television channels. The Alliance for Community Media, which sponsors the awards, says the honors are presented “to creative programs that address community needs, develop diverse community involvement, challenge conventional commercial television forms and move viewers to experience television in a different way.

“It’s more than we normally win,” said RBTV Director Gary Prokes. “It’s the most in a while. Usually we win one or two.”

Prokes won an award himself. He and Riverside-Brookfield High School Fine Arts Chairman Nick Gehl won in the non-professional Educational Profile category for their piece on the RBHS fine arts department.

Jette Pleasant, who graduated from RBHS in 2010 and is now majoring in television post production at Columbia College in Chicago, won in the Youth Short Subject category for her documentary “Cemeteries: Story in Stone II.”

Pleasant filmed, produced, wrote and narrated her film, a follow up to her award winning “Cemeteries: Stories in Stone” film she had made previously.

Her second film was the final project she did at RBTV. It was entered in this year’s competition because it was not completed until after the deadline for submissions to the 2010 awards.

Her nearly 9-minute film looks at the stories behind some statues in local cemeteries.  She tells the story behind four statues of elephants at Woodlawn Cemetery, which mark the numbered graves of circus performers who were killed on June 22, 1918, when their circus train was hit head-on by another train while on the way to performance in Hammond, Ind.

The crash, one of the worst train accidents in United States history, killed 86 people and injured 127. Some of the killed were burned beyond recognition and were buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in Forest Park.

Pleasant’s film also focuses on the Haymarket Martyrs monument in the Forest Home Cemetery. The monument overlooks the graves of four anarchists who were hanged in 1887 for their alleged role in the Haymarket massacre in Chicago in 1886. Many feel the men were not given a fair trial, were innocent of any crime and were merely punished for their beliefs in a hasty and unfair trial.

Pleasant finds cemeteries beautiful and fascinating, especially because of the stories that they tell.

“We all have our interests, and I suppose that cemeteries have been one of mine for some time,” said Pleasant who hopes to become a maker of documentary films. “I guess I have an appreciation for nature, and what cemeteries are is very reminiscent of museums that are in a natural setting. I really appreciate that.”

Dan Fleming, who graduated from RBHS in June and will also be attending Columbia College in the fall to study television post production, won in the Youth category for his short animated stop motion piece called “Gretchen.”

Fleming named his dark piece after his mother, because he was grounded at the time.

“It’s a real abstract world,” Fleming said of his piece. “It’s a dark place.”

Fleming was involved with RBTV from his freshman year and said that RBTV has been a big part of his life.

“It was great, definitely life-changing,” Fleming said. “The faculty and staff there are just amazing people, wonderful people.”

Haley Buntrock, who will be a senior at RBHS when school starts later this month, won in Youth Local Performance category for her production and editing of her video “Orchesis: Synergy” which was a broadcast of a RBHS dance performance.

Buntrock taped the performance two years ago and interspersed the video with interviews with the dancers talking about their performances. Buntrock said that she was surprised and thrilled when she found out from Prokes that she had won a first-place award.

“I’ve always had this goal for myself, that I would get first place for at least something that I’ve done,” Buntrock said. “I was hoping that something would get first place, and when I found out that “Orchesis” did that was so cool, because it was also so unexpected.”

Pleasant said her training at RBTV has prepared her well for college.

“RBTV has taught me almost everything I need to know,” Pleasant said. “I mean there’s still a lot to learn, but I honesty feel like I have been so well prepared by RBTV, and I was actually waived through a number of classes by the head of the department at Columbia, and they said that RBTV is one of only two high schools that they just accept students from there and will waive them through classes, because they know that RBTV prepares you well.”

Most of award winning videos can be seen on RBTV’s new You Tube channel