The Great California Shakeout

In an effort to be prepared for an earthquake disaster scenario, schools across the state of California participate in The Great Shakeout every year. Cathedral City High School takes the event to a new level through the Health & Environmental Academy of Learning (HEAL). HEAL students and staff work with community first responders to construct a realistic simulation of a disaster, including search and rescue missions and medical assistance provided by CERT certified students. 

This year, a team of 10 DATA sophomores collaborated with HEAL to document the unique event.

New student work for 2015-2016!

To kick off the year with a burst of creativity and fun, DATA DS juniors and seniors were responsible for creating 3 original projects during the first quarter of the school year. Each project was required to be between 1 and 3 minutes in length, one project must be a stop motion animation, and one project must incorporate a visual effect (either digital or practical).  Other than that, students were given total creative freedom. 

Students now have a more current body of work to polish and revise for contests and competitions throughout the year. Here are a few highlights, and many more can be found on our 1st Quarter Vimeo Album.

DATA Student Work on PBS

Two DATA student projects will air on PBS SoCal (KOCE) on September 20 at 3pm and October 3 at 3pm. 

Visiting Sideshow, created by DATA students Donielle Gerrell, Monico Castaneda, and Adrian Fernandez to document the Digicom-sponsored student visit to Taylor Sherrill's photography studio in March was awarded Best Representation of Visual Arts.


Giddy Up, a Spanish documentary about a local horse trainer created by 9th grade students Paola Granillo,Daniela Gonzalez, and Itzel Tolama was recognized as Best Foreign Language Film. 

DS Fest II!

On May 29th DATA students screened many of the more experimental, avant garde, and just plain odd projects created throughout the year at the Second Annual DATA Digital Storytelling Short Film Festival. DS Fest has become an unofficial end of the year celebration, bringing all four grade levels together to watch films while reflecting on the past, thinking about the future, and enjoying each others' company for one last time before graduation. 

The festival was broken into three segments: short films, web series, and international films submitted via DATA students Donielle Gerrell and Juvan Hackett culled through 756 Film Freeway submissions to find the top contenders from around the world. 

At the end of the night, students voted for their top three picks:

First Place: Conversations with Alfonso (original web series)
Created by Donielle Gerrell and Alfonso Hernandez

Second Place: Goodbye Class of 2015 (music montage)
Created by Damian Jimenez

Third Place: Mask II (original short film)
Created by Monico Castaneda, Adrian Fernandez, and Cruz Moreno

All short films can be found on the DS Fest Vimeo Channel.

CCHS Named California Gold Ribbon School

This week the California Department of Education selected Cathedral City High School as a California Gold Ribbon School. Gold Ribbon status is awarded based on the implementation of standards and practices that greatly improve academic and content performance. 

Both CCHS California Partnership Academies, DATA and HEAL, were featured in the Gold Ribbon application as examples of how students are engaged and pushed to achieve, a very strong example of how the Academy model impacts student performance in a positive way. 

Read the Desert Sun article here!


"Portraits" Film and Photo Festival

On Saturday May 2, the Cathedral City Public Arts Commissioned hosted "Portraits," a film/photo festival at the Mary Pickford Theatre based around the work of DATA students. Students were able to submit short films and photos to be judged, recognized, and displayed. In total, 7 projects from DATA DS students were chosen to be screened as finalists, with the top three earning gift cards to Adorama Photo, certificates, and trophies. 

Additionally, the top three films were all created by students in the DATA freshmen class of 2018, showing a lot of talent and potential! A big thanks to Jim Cox and the Cathedral City Public Arts Commission for providing this opportunity to our students. 

First Place: Labels

Paola Granillo, Britney Jaime, Gillian Mercado, and Luis Rodriguez 


Second Place: Giddy Up!

Daniela Gonzalez, Itzel Tolama, Paola Granillo

Third Place: Sharing Success: On Our Way to Giving Back

Donielle Gerrell, Jebari Wooten


Chalk Art
Adrian Fernandez, Monico Castaneda, Donielle Gerrell

I Am Here
Monico Castaneda, Adrian Fernandez

Rocket Man
Matt Donez

Unknown Stories: Cruz Moreno
Monico Castaneda, Adrian Fernandez

Photo contest submissions and winners can be seen at at

Skills USA State Conference!

More than 100 DATA students traveled to San Diego from April 9-12 to compete in 28 Leadership and Skill competitions at the SkillsUSA State conference against 2,100 other students from all over California.

Here are the results:


Creed- Shan Vo
Occupational Health- Irene Barragon, Alan Montoya, Gianfranco Zena


Screen Printing Technology- Stephanie Suarez
Graphic Communications- Eric Cuahuizo
Career Pathway Showcase- Jocelyn Chicas, Guadalupe Cortez, Tatiana Miles
Audio/Radio Production
- Rosa Rodriguez, Janett Tirado


Creed- Citlali Vazquez
Interactive App/Game Design- Jose Bermudez, Salvador Camino, Ramiro Escobar, Sebastian Gomez
Audio/Radio Production- Rio Chacon, Norma Vazquez
Graphic Communications
- Victor Hernandez (NCMS)

In addition to medals, DATA Junior Norma Vazquez was elected to SkillsUSA California State Office as Parliamentarian. Norma will be attending the SkillsUSA National Conference in June as a California Representative and will help organize SkillsUSA California events and competitions next year. 

Congrats to Norma and to all DATA-SkillsUSA students!

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.