Lead Story West Edition

Compton students focus on film

COMPTON — Five years from now, Compton High School senior Destiny Fifer sees herself walking the red carpet.

She plans to get there as a film director or producer and is already starting her journey in her school’s film production program. As part of the class, students gain experience putting together a news show about the district called Compton School Success.

They also provide services to the school such as filming pep rallies and directing the lighting for assemblies.

“I like to see all the different steps. It’s cool to watch a movie and know how it was done,” Fifer said.

Fifer started taking the class last year. She said the floor director is her favorite role because, “I like having authority and the respect is nice.”

The film production class has been around for 10 years, but has gained more support since Darin Brawley became district superintendent in 2012, said Juan Reynoso, the teacher.

Reynoso said that over the past three or four years, the school district has spent about $165,000 on a full studio set-up for the show, including a TriCaster, a multi-camera production system.

“We didn’t have this kind of support before Brawley,” Reynoso said.

In a couple of years, the district will start rebuilding the high school. While they have not picked a design plan yet, one of the options will give the program a big boost, Reynoso said.

“We can tell the board really took our feedback into consideration,” he said. “We like to think they designed the whole school around this program.”

Reynoso said his favorite model includes a stadium that is designed to protect the cameras from shaking while people are jumping up and down at a pep rally.

The next show includes a profile of Jennifer Kang-Moon, the new principal at McKinley Elementary School. It will also feature interviews with school board President Satra Zurita and Mattie Adams, the founder of district’s early college program.

Compton High School 10th graders Keishon White and Luz Mendez, sit on the set of Compton School Success with Compton school board President Satra Zurita and Mattie Adams,the founder of district’s early college program. (Photo by Anne Artley)
Compton High School 10th graders Keishon White and Luz Mendez, sit on the set of Compton School Success with Compton school board President Satra Zurita and Mattie Adams,the founder of district’s early college program. (Photo by Anne Artley)

Students taking part in that program can earn community college credit for their classes starting in ninth grade. Then, when they graduate, they also will have earned an associate’s degree.

During their junior and senior years, they have the opportunity to take classes that match their educational or career goals, which puts them on a faster track to obtaining a four-year degree.

Luz Mendez and Keishon White, two sophomores in early college, will talk about their experiences on air. The program is in its second year.

Zurita said the television class provides the perfect medium to spread the word about projects such as this one.

“It’s critical that we tell our story,” she said. “We have some great programs here in Compton. What better way to tell our stories than through our kids?”

Future plans for the show include airing commercials for local businesses in order to pay for more equipment, Zurita said.

The aim of the class is to give students the skills to excel in the entertainment industry, a field so dominant in Southern California.

“I want to see them get the real-life experience they deserve,” Reynoso said. “The classroom to me is not a classroom, it’s like a business. The only thing missing is a paycheck.”

The next show is tentatively set to air on Dec. 5 on Time Warner Spectrum Compton’s School Channel 26. Shows are also available on the YouTube channel ComptonSchools.