2014 Graduation Video

DATA Junior and soon-to-be-senior Monico Castaneda took it upon himself to film and edit the 2014 CCHS graduation ceremony, releasing the video online himself. 

The previous three graduations had been filmed by DATA student Jonathan Serna, but being in the ceremony this year meant that someone else would have to take on the project. In preparation, Jonathan worked with Monico for several weeks before graduation, covering equipment, techniques, and the challenges associated with shooting in low-light conditions. 

This was also the first year that video was an integral part of the actual graduation ceremony, with a 30 foot video screen comprising the entire back portion of the stage. DATA student work was heavily featured in graduation, from the opening video to the backdrop for an International-themed flash mob performance. 

DATA DS Junior Wins Trip to Ford Leadership Conference

DATA Junior Donielle Gerrell will be heading to Louisville Kentucky this October as part of the Ford Next Generation Learning Conference. The Ford NGL provides community leaders and selected students the opportunity to transform their communities through collaboration, planning, and engaging in constructive dialogue. 

As part of the application process, Donielle created and submitted a short video piece explaining how the Digital Arts Technology Academy builds leadership skills in its students. 

The 2014 Ford NGL Conference will take place from October 7th through October 9th. Visit FordNGL.com for more information.

48th Annual California Student Media Festival

Several DATA students rounded out their senior year with recognition at the 48th Annual California Student Media Festival in Hollywood. In addition to recognition at the event, students will have their work broadcast in an hour long special that will air on PBS SoCal in the coming months. Congratulations to all who participated!

Best 3D Animation
Slender (Minecraft Version)
Created by Aaron Argumedo, Danny Martinez, Alexis Herrera

Honorable Mention, Fine Arts
Give Me a Second
Created by Jonathan Serna

1st Annual DS Fest

On May 29th, DATA Digital Storytelling juniors and seniors showcased short films at the first DATA Digital Storytelling Short Film Festival.

The students' final project for the year was to create short films, from pitch and storyboard to post production and marketing. DS Fest aimed to provide an outlet for students to premiere their  work, which in some cases had taken five or six months to complete. More importantly, this was an opportunity for DATA students to come together as a group and enjoy each other's company one last time before senior graduation. 

We really didn't know how many people would attend the weeknight event, but nearly 100 students, parents, and staff crowded into the Digital Storytelling classroom to spend over two hours watching student work. Short films spanned the spectrum, from horror and comedy to romance and documentary. 

Check out several of the DS Fest short films: 

DATA Wins Big at Digicom 2014

On May 6th, more than $18,000 was donated to the Digital Arts Technology Academy and its students through awards, grants, and scholarships at the 2014 Digicom Student Film Festival, which took place in the Palm Springs High School auditorium. Many other elementary, middle, and high schools from the Palm Springs Unified School District also earned sizable donations for their students and programs.

The Digicom event was the culmination of many months of hard work by students, teachers, and Digicom staff throughout the district. DATA students worked on projects in a variety of categories, from short narratives and documentaries to autobiographies and animations. In total, 18 projects from DATA Digital Storytelling were featured in Digicom.

Additionally, the 4th collaboration between DATA Digital Imaging and Rio Vista Elementary school students was premiered at the event. The Rio Vista project allows DATA Di students to work collaboratively with elementary school students by revising, producing, and animating original work. The collaboration earned a $2,000 grant towards a celebration "fiesta" for the DATA and Rio Vista students and teachers.

Many DATA DS projects came from the 10th grade Media Literacy class, where Digicom's David Vogel spent several months working regularly with students to develop short autobiographical films. David helped students to develop and revise their projects, searching for clarity, focus, and meaning.

Among the awards and honors, 6 DATA seniors were given scholarships for college:

DATA Digicom scholarship recipients
Photo by Richard Lui/The Desert Sun)

Jarelle Balanzat (UCLA): $2500
Sara Lopez (UCB): $2500
Melissa Medina: $2500
Clarissa Cisneros (CSUDH): $1500
Genevieve Knight (CSUSB): $1000
Gabrielle Knight (CSUSB): $1000

All of the DATA student work is featured on the Digicom website and the Digicom 2014 DATA DS Vimeo Channel.

SkillsUSA State Competition

From April 24-27, more than 70 DATA-SkillsUSA students competed in the SkillsUSA State Competition at the Town and Country Resort in San Diego. DATA students tested their skills against top performers from across the state, earning medals in multiple contest categories.

In total, 16 students/teams earned medals (5 Bronze, 1 Silver, and 4 gold):

Screen Printing Technology
Gold - Chris Rodriguez

Graphic Communications
Gold - Eric Cuahizio 

Audio / Radio Production
Gold - Norma Vazquez and Jesse Rojo

Gold - Viviana Martinez

Bronze - Jennifer Reynoso

20 Second Elevator
Silver - Samuel Oropeza
Bronze - David Vo

Bronze - Jennifer Varela

Prepared Speech
Bronze - Sara Lopez

Chapter Display
Bronze - Andrea Alvarez, Denys Loaiza, and Yolanda Cortez

Career Pathway Showcase
Bronze - Denise Gonzalez, Isreal Chavez, and Bonnie Vo

Whether or not they earned medals, students were able to compete at a high level and gain valuable experience working with others in a high-pressure, real-world environment (and hopefully they had a bit of fun too). 

Gold medalists are eligible to participate in the National competition in Kansas City, MO this June where they will compete against top students from around the country. Congratulations to all students who participated!

SkillsUSA Preps for State

Next week, more than 70 DATA-SkillsUSA students will head to San Diego for four days to compete in the State Competition. Students who earn gold medals will advance to the National Competition in Kansas City, MO.

On April 16th, 10 students in the Broadcast News competition visited local ABC and CBS affiliates KESQ/KPSP. Students were given an in depth tour of the station where they were able to see how a professional broadcast news production operates, from the assignment desk and newsroom to the live broadcast. Students were also given the chance to practice their skills at the news desk, operate professional camera equipment, and were given feedback by on-air professionals.

The trip ended with students sitting in during a live broadcast, both in the studio and in the control room, where they were able to see how their roles in the SkillsUSA competition are carried out in the real world. With this experience, the DATA-SkillsUSA students should be more prepared to produce their own broadcasts and take on the competition in San Diego!

Tales of CC Student Film Festival

On Saturday, April 12th, the Cathedral City Public Arts Commission hosted a student film festival at the Mary Pickford Theater to coincide with the showing of Lalo Guerrero: The Original Chicano, a documentary based on the life of famed Cathedral City musician, Lalo Guerrero.

The "Tales of Cathedral City" student film festival prompted students to create work that, in one way or another, focuses on a subject related to Cathedral City. Five projects from Digital Storytelling students were selected to be shown on the big screen at the Pickford, with the top 3 finalists earning trophies and prizes.

First place was awarded to senior Jonathan Serna for The Takeover, which focuses on the 2013 Lions Football team. Jonathan's film will be shown in regular rotation at the Mary Pickford Theater before feature films.

1st Place: The Takeover by Jonathan Serna

2nd Place: Technology in Education by Donnielle Gerrell

3rd Place: Origins by Kevin Valdez and Pedro Pineda

Honorable Mention: Cathedral City High School by Marissa Cruz and Cheyenne Whitecotton

Honorable Mention: The Mary Pickford Theater by Julie Meza and Alejandra Escobar

All of the entries are available to view on the Tales of Cathedral City DATA DS Vimeo Channel. We'd like to thank Jim Cox and the Cathedral City Public Arts Commission for hosting the event, and we look forward to the 2015 Tales of Cathedral City Student Film Festival!


DATA at El Paseo Fashion Week

During the week of March 16th-22nd, DATA students from Digital Storytelling and Digital Imaging courses worked alongside professional photographers during El Paseo Fashion Week. 

Each night of Fashion Week, 4 students had a place on the photographers' platform at the end of the runway to shoot photos and video of models, designers, and attendees. Still images will be sent to event coordinators and used in student portfolios, while a promotional video piece will be created to highlight the DATA student experience at El Paseo Fashion Week. The hundreds of photos and hours of footage captured will all be put to good use by students. 

DATA students were also able to work as red carpet photographers, taking photos of attendees and models as they arrived and headed in to the main event. 

More than 25 DATA students were able to earn real-world professional experience during Fashion Week.  

Learning Professionalism: DATA Mock Interviews

Monico Castaneda interviews with independent filmmaker and educator Vincent Sassone

In an effort to prepare students for life after high school, DATA students participated in a mock interview day with community and industry partners on February 21st.

Various job positions were submitted by industry partners, ranging from Production Assistant to Museum Curator. Students were able to sign up to be interviewed for job positions of their choice.

Students presented themselves professionally, with business attire and formal resumes/portfolios. "Potential employers" then ranked each student on a scale from "You're hired!" to "Don't call us, we'll call you."

DATA senior Chris Gutierrez created a short video documenting the day and the students' experiences.

DATA on the Radio

On March 5th, DATA Digital Storytelling and Digital Imaging students visited RR Broadcasting KPTR 1450 studios as guests on PSUSD Communication Manager Joan Boiko's weekly radio show, "You Learn Something New Every Day," which airs live every Wednesday at 6pm.

Jacob Janes, Anthony Ramirez, Alex Eisman, and Branden Joven were able to talk about their experiences in DATA, their SkillsUSA competitions, and projects they're currently working on, including a video game, "CC Zombies."

Listen to the interview here!

Filming a Documentary for Desert Arc

On February 25th, 7 DATA DS students spent the day at Desert Arc to complete filming for a short documentary. The goal of the project is to show a typical "day in the life" of Desert Arc, featuring the services offered, client experiences, and events/activities. The documentary will be used by Desert Arc for promotion and awareness campaigns.

Students conduct a bilingual client interview

To ensure a worthwhile learning experience, Mitch Blumberg and Jody Legget of Desert Arc (both of whom have film industry experience) held several pre-production meetings with students on campus, and provided the students with production schedule and call sheet, ensuring that all needed content was included and that all filming was completed on time, creating and a valuable real-world experience for the students involved. 

While working on the documentary, students were able to meet and interact with Desert Arc clients, learning about their many achievements and struggles. Students also earned senior intern hours working with and as arts, media, and entertainment professionals.

Students will continue to work with Desert Arc during post production to ensure a high quality final product and to gain additional learning opportunities throughout the entire production process. Consistent, mutually beneficial partnerships are a critical component to the success of a career technical academy like DATA, and we sincerely appreciate Desert Arc's willingness to work with our students and guide them through the production process.

DATA Students Honored in White House Film Festival

Donielle Gerrell, Araly Lopez, and Ariana Davis | Photo by Richard Liu, The Desert Sun

In January, the White House sent out a call to K-12 students across the country to create a short video piece (3 minutes) that focuses, in some way, on the impact of technology in education. More than 2,500 submissions were created for The White House Student Film Festival, which seeks to highlight student finalists at a special screening event at the White House. Students also have the opportunity to have their work featured on the White House's official YouTube, Vimeo, and other social media outlets.

Photo by Richard Liu, The Desert Sun

DATA DS juniors Donnie Gerrell, Araly Lopez, and Ariana Davis answered the call and worked together to create a short piece that explores the experience and impact the DATA program at Cathedral City High School has had on students– from current projects to alumni using DATA skills in the workplace.

The students' goal was to show the ways in which DATA has been a leading program in technological integration and technological literacy, not only equipping students with the skills necessary to use technology, but teaching them how to understand its deeper meanings and implications. 

The project earned a semi-finalist position with Honorable Mention. The student work will soon be featured on WhiteHouse.gov/FilmFestival along with the White House's other social media channels.

The Desert Sun has also featured a story on the DS students and their project and Congressman Raul Ruiz sent a letter of congratulations to Donnie, Araly, and Ariana.

Check out their project below:

Sunnylands Kicks Off Family Day Event Season

Sunnylands officially kicked off the 2014 Family Day Program on Sunday, January 19th and DATA DS students were on hand to document and take part in the fun, working in groups to tell the story of the day through photos, footage, and interviews. 

As hosts to meetings of world leaders, politicians, and celebrities, the Annenbergs knew a few things about etiquette and social customs. This Family Day event helped guests of all ages learn proper manners, from writing thank you cards to proper dining etiquette.

The Sunnylands Visitors Center also unveiled a new gallery collection of memorabilia from some of the most famous events hosted at the estate, including Frank Sinatra's wedding and President Obama's first visit in 2013.

DATA students worked in groups to tell the story of the day through photos, footage, and interviews. 

Visit our calendar page for more information on the upcoming April 20th and May 18th Family Day events, or visit sunnylands.org for more information.

DATA Student's Work Featured in Architectural Digest

In February 14th, two DATA students, Jenni Varela and Monico Casteneda, worked with independent filmmaker and former NYU instructor Vincent Sassone to help document the kickoff to Modernism Week at the Palm Springs Convention Center. 

Jenni shot still images of the vendor expos and displays while Monico shot video of the event also helped Vincent shoot interviews. Some of Jenni's work was selected to be featured by Architectural Digest  and the Hollywood Reporter in articles about Modernism Week in Palm Springs. 

Congratulations to Jenni and thank you to Vincent for helping to provide this opportunity!

Gnomon School of Visual Effects

Students pose for a group photo in front of the Science Center before heading home

On February 19th, potential DATA students (50 9th graders and 50 8th graders) toured the Gnomon School of Visual Effects in Hollywood. Students viewed reels of work, toured the campus, observed students work in progress, and learned about the various programs offered by the Gnomon School. Gnomon graduates and current students have worked on countless films and television projects, from blockbusters to smaller independent films. 

Before heading home, students were able to have lunch at the nearby Science Center, home to the Space Shuttle Endeavor. Students were able to explore the museum center and see the shuttle up close.

This was our annual outreach trip, designed to encourage 9th grade students to apply for academy acceptance in their sophomore year, and to show 8th grade students the Arts, Media, and Entertainment career pathway offered exclusively at Cathedral City High School through the DATA program. Previous trips have taken students to schools, studios, and other high-interest locations.

Trips like this not only help students to begin thinking about life and careers after high school, but also how DATA can play a role in achieving whatever their individual goal may be. 

The Thirst Project


On February 18th, Seth Maxwell, founder of The Thirst Project, presented a unique challenge and opportunity to DATA juniors and seniors.

At 26 years old, Seth has lead the Thirst Project in completing nearly 1,000 water projects, providing large amounts of sustainable fresh water to people in underdeveloped or impoverished nations. Seth brought with him facts and statistics showing the devastating effects that a lack of clean water can have on a community– everything from parasitic infections to AIDS. 

Students sign up to create a Thirst Project organization

More than 300 schools have worked with The Thirst Project, many participating in fundraising projects for provide permanent water wells to communities in need. A major role of The Thirst Project involves raising awareness of this issue that affects nearly 1 billion people worldwide.

Seth Maxwell speaks to DATA juniors and seniors

After hearing from Seth, more than 46 DATA students signed up to form a campus organization that utilizes the skills learned in DATA to raise awareness of this global issue and raise money for new water projects.

Working with The Thirst Project is a unique opportunity for DATA students to use the skills learned in class to create projects that will leave the classroom and have a lasting positive impact in the lives of others. 

Desert Town Hall Speaker Series

Ariana Davis working as a camera operator during the Ling sisters' Q&A session with local high school students

The Desert Town Hall Speaker Series allows valley residents to hear from prominent politicians, government officials, journalists, writers, and more. Over a series of 4 nights each year, speakers address an audience of more than 1,800. Past speakers have included President George W. Bush, Robert Ballard, and Fareed Zakaria.

DATA Junior Bonnie Vo being interviewed by Gitzel Puenta from KMIR 6

In an effort to better connect with teens in the Coachella Valley, guest speakers also participate in the Youth Town Hall program, where they spend an hour speaking only with students from local high schools in a much more intimate and candid environment. Students are able to participate in Q&A sessions with each speaker. 

DATA DS students were charged with the task of archiving each of this season's Youth Town Hall sessions. In years past, Youth Town Hall sessions were not documented, and therefore lost as soon as they finished. 

This opportunity gives DATA students valuable experience working in a professional, formal, and real-world environment, where they are responsible for creating work of true value for a specific audience/purpose. 

Champions at Work: DATA-SkillsUSA

Over two days, January 18th and 25th, DATA-SkillsUSA students competed against other schools for top honors at the SkillsUSA Regional Competition in Apple Valley and Ontario. Weeks of hard work paid off as DATA students dominated the competitions.

For the first time, 3 students from Nellie Coffman Middle School competed at regionals, two earning Silver medals in TV/Video Production and all advancing to the State Competition.


Digital Cinema Production, TV/Video Production, Audio/Radio Production, Broadcast News Production, Quiz Bowl, Community Service, 20 Second Elevator Interview, Creed, Job Demonstration, Promotional Bulletin Board, Chapter Display, T-Shirt Design


Prepared Speech, Broadcast News Production, Job Interview, 20 Second Elevator Interview, Creed, T-Shirt Design, Digital Cinema Production, TV/Video Production


Quiz Bowl, T-Shirt Design, Broadcast News Production, Digital Cinema Production, TV/Video Production (NCMS Students)

All students who earned medals will advance to the California SkillsUSA State Competition in San Diego this April. Many students who did not earn medals will also be able to advance 

Check out more photos!