DATA Students Earn White House Recognition for 2nd Time!

Jebari Wooten and Donielle Gerrell

For the second consecutive year, DATA Senior Donielle Gerrell has earned recognition from The White House for her work. Out of more than 1,500 submissions nationwide, Sharing Success: On Our Way to Giving Back was one of only 200 selected to earn an Honorable Mention.

For this year's project, Gerrell collaborated with DATA Freshmen Jebari Wooten, working after school and during Winter Break to complete the piece under a tight deadline. The documentary, based on the theme of "The Impact of Giving Back," centers around Digicom founder David Vogel and his journey from entertainment industry executive to education leader and advocate. 

Through Digicom, Vogel has not only promoted Digital Storytelling as a relevant and transformative element of education, but has also formed the Digicom Learning Institute, dedicated to helping teachers incorporate Digital Storytelling into their classrooms through trainings, workshops, and collaborations with industry professional artists-in-residence. 

The video created by Gerrell and Wooten will be featured on the White House's website and YouTube channels, providing a fantastic exposure opportunity for both students and the Digital Arts Technology Academy. "This is huge," said Wooten. "I couldn't believe it when I heard the news, I was so excited."

In light of these accolades, Gerrell hopes to turn the attention on others. "Last year's video earned a lot of recognition, not only for me, but for the DATA program," said Gerrell. "I hope this video can turn the spotlight on Digicom, which has already given so much to Jebari and myself. After seeing all it's done and how much it's grown, Digicom deserves more recognition." 

Sharing Success: On Our Way to Giving Back can be viewed on the DATA DS Vimeo page and on the White House's 2015 Student Film Festival YouTube Playlist, along with all of the Honorable Mentions.

Create Day 2015!

On March 11, 2015 students from Nellie Coffman, James Workman, and Raymond Cree Middle Schools spent the day in the DATA studios creating original material in workshops lead by DATA students as part of Create Day 2015. Middle school participants were able to build skills in Digital Cinema, Audio Production, T-Shirt Design, Video Game Design, and Photography, leaving CCHS with copies of their work at the end of the day (including a student designed and screened shirt).

 Students filming "The Race"

Students filming "The Race"

Create Day was devloped by the DATA team in an effort to promote our California Partnership Academy  and recruit incoming students. Through Create Day, Middle school students were able to spend time in the DATA classrooms working with teachers and students, and getting a feel for what it would be like to be a part of the Academy and to attend CCHS.

Jose Aguirre and Raymond Galeana work on Final Cut Pro X with middle school students.

Through the continued support of Digicom, DATA students who were not leading their own workshops were able to participate in filmmaking workshops with Digicom Artists-in-Residence Frank Guttler and Max Finnerman. 

Videos produced by students in the Digital Cinema workshop can be viewed via the DATA Create Day 2015 Vimeo Channel:

SkillsUSA Gold medallists Rio Chacon and Norma Vasquez lead students in Audio Broadcast Production.

SkillsUSA 2015 Regionals

DATA students took home a total of 18 Gold, 13 Silver, and 13 Bronze medals during the 2015 Regional Competitions. 

A total of 100 students will be advancing to the SkillsUSA California 48th Annual State Leadership and Skill Conference in San Diego April 9th through 12th,  including 14 students from Nellie Coffman Middle School and one from the CCHS HEAL Academy. 


Digital Cinema- Manual Aramburo, Jebari Wooten
Job Demo A- Michael DeLeon
TV Video Production- Myra Castillo, Nathan Scarantino (NCMS 8th Graders)
Audio/Radio Production- Rio Chacon, Norma Vazquez
Broadcast News Production- Andrea Alvarez, Yolanda Cortez, Kimberly Martinez, Jessie Villareal
Photography- Carolina Vazquez
Graphic Communication- Eric Cuahuizo
Graphic Imaging Sublimation- Damian Jimenez
Interactive App/Game Design- Jose Bermudez, Salvador Camino, Sebastian Gomez
AME Chapter Display- Jocelyn Chicas, Guadalupe Cortez, Tatianna Miles
Crime Scene Investigation- Simi Chacon, Camille Manalato, Jessica Ramos
Chapter Display- Samual Oropeza, Kenia Meza
Promotional Bulletin Board- Alexis Cruz,Miguel Platero
20 Second Elevator- Ramon Arcos
Extemporaneous Speaking- Mikie Bowman
Creed- Karen Meza
Occupational Health & Safety-  Irene Barragan, Alan Montoya, Gianfranco Zena
Quiz BowlKandace Joven, Nadine Gallegos, Ariana Davis, Sebastian Gomez


TV/Video Production- Hillary Rivera, Julia De La Torre
Audio/Radio Production- Rosa Rodriguez, Janett Tirado
Broadcast News Production- Nadine Gallegos, Kandace Joven, Araly Lopez, Louisenrique Saucedo
Chapter Display- Donielle Gerrell, Denys Loaiza, Yolanda Cortez
Creed- Citlali Vazquez
Job Demo A- Nathan Scarantino
Photography- Manual Perla
Screen Printing Technology- Stephanie Suarez
Advertising Design- Morgan Wash
Graphic Communication- Jose Arellano
3D Visualization- Jordan Lazalde, Ezequiel Tirado
Interactive App/Game Design- Luis Galindo, Sebastian Gonzalez, Juan Martinez, Celeste Medina
Crime Scene Investigation- Jose Aguirre, Raymond Garcia, Andrew Russell
Quiz Bowl
Antonio Arce, Mariafernanda Salazar, Alexis Cruz, Alan Anguiano, Eric Diaz


Chapter Display- Liza Rojas and Makayla Coor
T-Shirt Design- Angela Improm
20 Second Elevator- David Vo
Job Demo A- Emily Garcia
Digital Cinema- Monico Castaneda, Adrian Fernandez
TV/Video Production- Rebecca Alvarez, Mitaya LaPierre
Audio/Radio Production- Randy Avina, Miguel Covarrubias (NCMS)
Broadcast News Production- Daniel Alvarado, Citlally Alvarez, Nelman Sabillon (NCMS)
Photography- Jetzabel Villaescusa
Graphic Communication- Victor Hernandez (NCMS)
3D Visualization- Jonas Engleman, Miguel Platero
Interactive App/Game Design- Erick Inzunza, Redmyn Lee, Blanca Granados
Quiz BowlViviana Martinez, Jennifer Reynoso, Hillary Rivera, Julia de la Torre, Jessica Zacarias
Creed- Shan Vo

Congratulations to all students who competed! Now it's time to prepare for State!


Youth Town Hall Speaker Series

DATA students film Mitt Romney's Youth Town Hall event. 

Monday January 19th kicked off the 2015 Desert Town Hall Speaker Series. For the second consecutive year, DATA DS students were on hand to document and archive the events, beginning with Mitt Romney.

Through sponsor support and community donations, 150 valley students from 22 area high schools are able to attend each Youth Town Hall event, where they are given the chance to hear from and ask questions of the featured speaker. 

DATA-SkillsUSA 2015 Kicks Off!

SkillsUSA officers open the first all-member meeting of the year

On Thursday September 11th, all DATA students in grades 10-12, and 9th grade pre-DATA students in Contemporary Media (almost 200 students total) began registering to be a part of the 2015 DATA-SkillsUSA chapter. DATA-SkillsUSA officers manned 8 display booths in the CCHS gym, each focusing on a different aspect of the SkillsUSA experience, ranging from competitions and personal experiences to professional development and official dress code. 

SkillsUSA students prepare to compete in a race across a pit of lava

The DATA-SkillsUSA chapter began 5 years ago, with roughly 24 students. 100 students joined SkillsUSA in the 2013-2014 school year. This year, more than 130 students registered to participate (including 15 students from Nellie Coffman Middle School), making this the largest group so far!

Teams use paper to cross the lava pit

The official member kickoff took place on October 22nd, where SkillsUSA student officers lead members in activities, contest registration, and membership sign ups. Afterwards, SkillsUSA students marched down Highway 111 as part of the CCHS Homecoming Parade. 

Students are now ready to prepare for regional competitions in January, where they will earn the chacne to compete at the State Conference in San Diego this April.

DATA Senior Attends Ford Leadership Conference

DATA Senior Donielle Gerrell attended the Ford Next Generation Learning (NGL) Leadership Conference in Louisville, Kentucky from October 6-9. As the only student selected from the West Coast to attend, Gerrell conveyed the benefits of academy programs to business partners and school administrators from around the country.

The mission of Ford's NGL program is to mobilize educators, employers, and community leaders to create a new generation of young people who will graduate from high school ready for college and careers.

"It was one of the best experiences I've had in high school," said Gerrell. "I can't wait to go back."

Behind the Blue: Season 2

Jason Bullen (12) and Morgan Holecek (11) run through a script rehearsal for the first episode of Behind the Blue season 2.

Last school year two DATA seniors had an idea for a web show, not as part of the official course curriculum, but as a passion project of their own. Zaira Garcia and Clarissa Cisneros developed "Behind the Blue," a bi-monthly web show distributed online to keep CCHS students up to date with campus events. 

Behind the Blue was well received by students, with Cisneros and Garcia gaining recognition and accolades for their efforts, including the addition of a web series component to the newly written and implemented Advanced Digital Media Production course for DATA DS seniors. 

Before graduation, Cisneros and Garcia wanted to make sure their show didn't end. They searched for DATA students to take on the challenge of continuing the show, and growing it to incorporate new ideas and personalities.  

For its second season, Behind the Blue is expanding. Through collaboration with ASB, DATA students Donielle Gerrell, Jason Bullen, and Morgan Holecek will produce Behind the Blue as a weekly series posted online to our Behind the Blue Vimeo channel as well as broadcast through the campus closed circuit system every Friday. 

Many high school broadcasts are notorious for leaving more than a little to be desired when it comes to content and production values. Using this knowledge to their advantage, Gerrell, Bullen, and Holecek seek to create an intentionally cheesy and fun tone that keeps students entertained while also communicating important information each week.   

DATA Grads Featured in Thrive! Magazine

DATA graduate Anthony Ramirez on the cover of Thrive! Magazine

2014 DATA graduates Jacob Janes and Anthony Ramirez are featured in the summer edition of Thrive! magazine. This issue focuses on career academies in the Coachella Valley, with the cover story, "Jacob and Anthony's Excellent Digital Adventure," detailing the two students' experiences in the DATA program at Cathedral City High School. 

The article may be viewed via Thrive! online or by downloading a PDF. Print copies were also sent out with Sunday's edition of The Desert Sun.

The article also outlines the two students' post-high school plans. Jacob will be attending UC Santa Cruz to study Computer Science while Anthony will study Filmmaking at UC Riverside. 

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 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.