West View woman's video may earn her spot in winner's circle

| Wednesday, July 10, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Kristen Grom of West View might be making travel plans to attend the Sundance Film Festival in January.

She'll know when she attends the No Bull Teen Video Awards in August in Los Angeles. Her video, “Erase the Hate,” was selected as one of 15 finalists out of 264 entries. Having her five-minute short film shown at the Sundance festival in Utah is one of the top prizes offered as part of The Great American No Bull Challenge, a social change campaign for 13- to 18-year-olds.

“I'm constantly entering things,” said Grom, 18.

In fact, her novel, “Hopefully Yours” won a Gold Medal in the 90th annual Scholastic Art and Writing competition in the spring. She earned the opportunity to work with a professional editor to prepare her first book for possible publication.

Grom's creativity transferred easily from the written word to the screen.

Jill Mikula, a physical education teacher in North Hills Senior High School, Grom's alma mater, told her about the contest in 2012 — just five days before the video was due. Despite the time crunch, her entry made it into the Top 100 last year. With more time this year, Grom's anti-bullying piece may get her into the winners circle.

It was one of 50 top videos chosen during public voting in May. Judges then determined the top 15 entries.

The cause the contest champions is one Grom embraces.

“My mom always told me to treat people the way I wanted to be treated,” she said. “You don't have to like everybody, just respect them.”

Sarah Flores, vice president of video and content for the No Bull Challenge in California, remembers Grom's perfectionism and her product.

“There's not so much acting or drama,” Flores said. “She filled the video with facts, and the children look real. It's relatable for other kids.”

Grom said she hopes her work shows teens that “being the voice of someone who doesn't have one is cool.”

Being kind to those on the receiving end of a bully's cruelty sends the strongest of messages.

“I think a lot of teens are so caught up in fitting in, they often forget one random act of kindness can change someone's life,” she said.

Dona S. Dreeland is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6353 or ddreeland@tribweb.com.

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