Sarasota Student Filmmakers Make Educational Video, Win State-of-the-Art Aquarium

Cadets at Sarasota Military Academy, a local, public charter school, recently won the “National Coral to Action Challenge’, hosted by the Coral Restoration Foundation. Students across the nation submitted short, educational videos; the top finalists were chosen by a panel of expert judges, and the winning team was selected by votes submitted on social media.

“We had over 240 students submit nearly 100 entries from all over the country, and every single one was a joy to watch,” said Derek Hagen, Coral Restoration Foundation Education Program Manager. “The film that Timothy, Kelly, Haley, and Dominique created really stood out for its powerful simplicity that cuts right to the heart of the issue – there really is a horror story happening in the ocean! But knowing that there are so many incredibly smart, talented, passionate, and creative young people out there gives us hope for the future!”

The winning video, submitted by Sarasota Military Academy juniors Timothy Baldwin, Kelly Fletes, Haley Coady and Dominique Storr, can be viewed by visiting or the Coral Restoration Foundation Facebook page.

“When my classes discuss the current status of the health of the oceans and coral reefs, it is easy for students to feel like the problems are too big. The “Coral to Action Challenge” provides the opportunity for students to become active in protecting and raising awareness for the coral reefs,” said SMA-CPT Jeanette Marks, Sarasota Military Academy Marine Science Educator. “This was such an excellent opportunity for students across the nation to highlight the need for action, while creating something unique and helpful. I’m so proud of my students for creating such an incredible video that will inspire more people to take action in protecting coral reefs.”

Shortly after the cadets completed the video and entered the contest, the 300-gallon classroom aquarium of SMA-CPT Jeanette Marks, Sarasota Military Academy Marine Science Educator, burst, flooding the classroom, on February 21, 2020. SMA-CPT Marks, a certified Florida Master Naturalist and Florida Water Steward, and the SMA cadets were able to save the fish and hermit crabs, but were unable to repair the tank. Through this opportunity, the Academy will be able to replace the tank with a brand new, state-of-the-art aquarium, at no additional costs.

The panel of judges that selected the top three finalist videos included The Ocean Agency’s Richard Vevers from the Netflix show, “Chasing Coral”, and Angie Lassman from NBC 6. The finalists include Sarasota Military Academy, Collegiate Academy of Colorado and Mandalay Elementary School.

According to information provided by the Coral Restoration Foundation’s social media account, the winning team will receive a state-of-the-art educational aquarium for their school, sponsored by Titan Aquatic Exhibits. The winning video will be hosted on the Coral Restoration Foundation™ website and shared on social media accounts and NBC 6 will air the winning film on their network and digital platforms. 

To learn more about the Coral Restoration Foundation, visit

About Sarasota Military Academy
Founded in 2002, Sarasota Military Academy (SMA) is a public charter school, college preparatory academy and an accredited IB Diploma and Middle Years Programme (MYP) School with two campuses located in Sarasota, Florida. Combining extraordinary academics with the highest military principles of camaraderie, focus, leadership, integrity, compassion, poise, honor and respect, SMA’s mission is to graduate young men and women who will confidently define their personal and unique goals for success in a multi-cultural and globalized world. Sarasota Military Academy High School is located at 801 N. Orange Avenue and Sarasota Military Academy Prep Middle School is located at 3101 Bethel Lane. To learn more about SMA, visit

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