On a large-screen TV monitor inside the Discovery Channel headquarters, two students from Parkland High School in Allentown, Pa., are describing their school’s student-run video production, Parkland Morning News (PMN). As Doug Waters, technical director for the student-run news program, and Erik Archibald, the show’s director, describe how Parkland students produce a lead story to accompany the reading of announcements during homeroom each morning, behind-the-scenes footage from the PMN studio are interwoven seamlessly with shots of Archibald and Waters being interviewed on camera.

No, this isn’t a documentary produced by Discovery Channel executives–though, judging by the video’s high quality, it very well might be. Instead, it’s a video produced by the students themselves. And if this five-minute video sample is any indication, the students at Parkland are doing some pretty amazing things with today’s technology.

The Parkland students’ video took top honors in the first-ever Student Video Discovery Awards (SVDA) program, which aims to recognize and honor excellence in student video production. Created by eSchool News and sponsored by Discovery Education–a division of Discovery Communications, which operates the Discovery Channel–with additional support from Cisco Systems, Apple Computer, Avid Technology, Macromedia, and NEC, the program is intended to give students international visibility for their work–and some professional experience to boot.

For consideration in the inaugural awards program, eSchool News asked high school and college students to submit videos they created themselves under the guidance of an educator sponsor. Entries, which could be up to 10 minutes in length, were to focus on the use of technology in the students’ school or district.

Hundreds of students from across North America, working as teams or as individuals, submitted entries. From these entries, the six judges–all professionals from the education, journalism, and video-production fields, including Ed DeLeon, the Emmy award-winning executive producer of “Assignment Discovery”–chose a winner and two runners-up.

Capturing second-place honors was a team of students from South Burlington High School in Burlington, Vt. A team of students from Northeast High School in Oakland Park, Fla., placed third. (More information about each of these winning teams and their entries appears on the following pages; the award-winning videos can be seen here.)

The judges all agreed: The quality of the winning teams’ videos was top-notch. “I was blown away by the consistently high production value and quality storytelling,” said Charlie Parsons, executive producer of Discovery’s “The Science Channel.” “It is wonderful for these creative students to have an outlet to display their immense talents–and it is equally terrific to see how much the schools embrace and support their skilled filmmakers.”

Betsy Whalen, a former teacher who is now manager of educator programs for Discovery Education, agreed.