PLACENTIA — El Dorado High School is opening its first college academy this fall to give students a head start in careers in the growing field of media and digital technology.
The new Academy of Digital and Media Arts is available for freshmen interested in photography, animation, and video and filmmaking.
“These are really great opportunities to take those first steps toward college or maybe even get into entry-level jobs in the career field,” said Mark Switzer, who teaches the production class. and advanced video streaming.
The school already offers courses in all three areas, but will integrate the skills learned in these courses into core curriculum courses such as math and English.
“They’ll be taking English lessons, but they’ll be augmented so the class uses the skills they’ll be learning in some of their electives,” El Dorado principal Cary Johnson said.
For example, if students are studying Hamlet or Macbeth, they can create a storyboard or photo essay as part of the lesson, Switzer said.
“The goal is that we don’t want to supplant or replace what they do in their core classes with a digital arts curriculum, but we want them to be able to use (those classes) to expand opportunities to use technologies and bring them into these classes,” Switzer said.
First-year students entering the academy this fall will begin with the introductory elective course, Academic Careers in Digital Media Arts. After this academic year, Switzer encourages students to choose a particular path from the three choices of photography, animation, and video and filmmaking.
Several students in Switzer’s Advanced Video Production and Broadcast class praised the new academy and said they would have liked to join if it was available in their freshman year. The class also produces the school’s “Hawk Talk,” a weekly news program.
“Once I got into broadcasting, I found a passion that only grew,” said Jasmine Rivera, senior manager and news director for Hawk Talk. Rivera, who has been on the program for three years, said she plans to pursue a career in broadcast journalism.
Several others have touted the class as one of the best decisions they made in high school. All excited about their new skills, they said the class had also made many friendships.
“You learn a lot of life skills, like time management. It really teaches you responsibility,” said Libby Blood, a junior.
Students in animation, photography, and video and filmmaking courses can also build a portfolio, a necessity for furthering their education or securing employment in the field, Switzer said.
“Speaking from my perspective and trying to get film school students into college, these programs are really looking for high school students to apply with a portfolio,” Switzer said. “They’re not just looking for someone who has finished high school with a general college preparatory education who may have taken an art course. They are looking for students who can deliver a video essay or present a portfolio of work. »
“It’s always nice to be on a program that’s so amazing and they’ve done such a great job of it and giving it that support already,” Johnson said. “It really looks like he’s going to blossom.”
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