Producing producers

Students in upcoming D214 Studio class to learn producing skills, create reality show

Sam Svoboda, Editor-in-Chief

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District 214 is yet again expanding its career pathway program, building a full-fledged production studio in Forest View to create a program called D214 Studio. The program, which will officially begin next semester, mirrors past career pathway courses in that it’s a hands-on experience, but it is also significantly more ambitious.

The program aims to have students produce, shoot and edit a professional-quality reality show called “High School Flip” that highlights the work of two other career pathways: Design and Practical Architectural Construction (PAC). The reality show will document the work of those two courses as they plan, build and flip a house over the course of a season.

“The district wanted to do something unique that’s not done virtually anywhere as far as we know,” Elk Grove High School teacher Bruce Janu said.

Janu will instruct the course along with Todd Hatfield of Hersey, and owns production company Bell, Book, & Camera Productions. He will bring his knowledge gained making videos and films to D214 studio.

The class is a bit different from the average high school course. Students from all over District 214 can take it, but they must apply for acceptance into the program.

“[We’re] trying to bring in the best,” Janu said. “Does that mean we’re trying to bring in a student with lots of experience? Not necessarily. But a kid who demonstrates a passion, a desire, and ability to get things done [would be accepted to the program].”

Space is limited, but students who are accepted will earn half a credit and get a chance to build their portfolio. The instruction portion of the class runs after school from 4:00-5:30 p.m. two nights every week, but students will be pulled out of classes during the day to shoot the actual T.V. show.

Both the Capstone and Internship levels will be involved in producing “High School Flip,” although the Internship course, which can be taken only after Capstone, will be heavily involved in both the filming of the show and the mentoring of Capstone students.

“High School Flip” aims to give students autonomy and control while simultaneously giving them a head start in a particular career. Another course like that at RMHS is Entrepreneurship, which has students building their own businesses and presenting them to investors.

“I think [career pathway courses are] really helpful because it gives you an idea whether you want to do that when you’re older or not,” junior Grace Stubing, who’s currently in Entrepreneurship, said. “…It’s really helpful to learn now in high school, and get some more experience.”

Not everybody believes a head start like this is good for education, however, history teacher R. Elliott Olson believes career pathway courses disregard several real factors about living in the real world, and make students focus on their career too early on.

“Nowhere in this program does it teach you how to be an employee with protected rights, nowhere does it teach you what to do if a boss takes advantage of you, nowhere does it teach you that maybe the system that we’re preparing you for isn’t the be-all end-all of everything,” Olson said.  “….I would argue that it is companies, the people that are eventually going to employ these students, that benefit the most from these career pathways.”

Others at RMHS see  D214 Studio—and career pathways in general—as an opportunity to work hands-on in the field their interested in.

“If you’re interesting in film, journalism, broadcasting, this would give you the experience,” Media teacher Tobin Summers said. “It’s fantastic.”