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Students Want High School Video Classes

Posted: February 15, 2008 1:35 a.m.
Updated: April 17, 2008 5:02 a.m.

Placerita Junior High students practice for their daily television broadcast. Blake Coffey, right, asked the Hart School Board to consider adding broadcasting classes at the high school level.

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The students in the award-winning Kid Flix program at Placerita Junior High would like a similar program developed at Hart High so that they can continue their education in broadcast journalism when they get to high school.

Blake Coffey, an eighth-grader at Placerita, is a Kid Flix student producer. The 13-year-old spoke to William S. Hart Union High School District board members at the last board meeting, entreating them to provide a video production program at Hart.

"Almost all of the high schools have it, and Hart is one that does not," Blake told the board. He asked for support in making a video program happen at Hart High and wants a video studio included in the modernization project that is about to begin at the Newhall campus.

Blake and his father, Jim Coffey, who was also at the board meeting and is a Hart High graduate, have been meeting with Hart High administrators in an effort to get a video program started there.

"Those kids at Placerita who continue on to Hart High School have no way to continue their work," Coffey said to the board.

The Kid Flix program was started by Placerita math teacher Paul Kass 13 years ago. The program has taken different forms over the years, and now focuses on broadcast journalism and television production. The student producers, editors, anchors and writers broadcast a live morning newscast each morning to Placerita classrooms.

"This is a student-run group. My job is to guide them, but they organize everything," Kass said. "They are an incredible group of kids. It's an extracurricular activity, so they don't get a grade for it, but they show up early every day to do it because they love it."

In January, the Kid Flix students took home several awards from the Student Television Network Convention competition in Anaheim.

Aio Takeya received third place in anchoring; Cameron Quon took an honorable mention in anchoring and was selected as a closing ceremonies presenter; Jake Culligan earned an honorable mention in collaborative commercial; and Blake, Shannon Cholakian and Clarisza Mora received honorable mentions in laptop commercial.

Shannon, 14, another Kid Flix student producer, had done some camera work in elementary school and wanted to move on to editing and producing when she got to Placerita.

"I heard about the program here, and I had heard it was good, but when I saw it I immediately wanted to get to the top," Shannon said. "I'm definitely going to try to get a program at Hart. With a four-year program, we can do a lot more and get a lot more experience."

Hart Principal Collyn Nielsen has been meeting with administrators, interested teachers and concerned Placerita parents to discuss plans for a video program at the high school.

"So far it's going in the right direction," Nielsen said. "We feel a video program is very relevant for our community, and we want to have the best program possible."

Adding a video studio to the modernization plans is still under discussion, he said.

Kass said he will be at the next Hart High board meeting to discuss the video program and to let them know what the kids at Placerita have been doing.

"Having started a program myself, I know what they're going through," he said. "But with the help of these kids who are coming in, I know they'll have a great program."

Blake also is optimistic.

"So far the board seems to be on our side, and hopefully something will get going pretty soon," Blake said.

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