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When high school athletes select the college team for which they will play, the students often hold press conferences and sign letters of intent to announce their decisions on May 1’st. This day is also known as “signing day”

This year,  AISD, The E3 alliance, and GenTX decided to host a pep rally type of event that honored kids, (that weren’t athletes) committing to college. The Central Texas College Signing Day event was held at Huston-Tillotson and our very own Keirra Ewah and Jacob Duran covered it for KAHS News. Austin High School Students attended the event and we were able to catch up with them for an interview.

Speakers included:

    • Julian Castro, former Mayor of San Antonio, and the creator of San Antonio College Signing Day
    • Judge Sarah Eckhardt, Travis County’s first female County Judge
    • Steven Adler, Mayor of Austin
    • Dr. Paul Cruz, Superintendent of Austin Independent School District
    • Dr. Kelly Crook, Superintendent of Del Valle Independent School District and
    • Vince Young, former star football player, University of Texas at Austin.

Hello San Diego!

stn - 44

The National Student Television Network Convention (STN) is the “end all be all” when it comes to comradery and competition. For the first time ever, KAHS was in attendance! We really didn’t go there to compete, so much as to to see the zoo and hang out on the beach. I am happy to report that we reached our goals. But we were not totally absent from the convention and attended panels and participated in the “commercial” contest. We were tasked with finding a local business that would allow us to produce a commercial for them and then turn it in 6 hours later. We found a dance studio. Advisers were barred from assistance which made it a true student competition. The students found a Brazilian dance studio that was down to collab. We didn’t win any hardware with our entry, but we all had an awesome time all the same.

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Obama invited us over to his house!

President Barack Obama joins students for a group photo in the State Dining Room during the White House Student Film Festival, March 20, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson) This photograph is provided by THE WHITE HOUSE as a courtesy and may be printed by the subject(s) in the photograph for personal use only. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not otherwise be reproduced, disseminated or broadcast, without the written permission of the White House Photo Office. This photograph may not be used in any commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

President Barack Obama stands alongside student filmmakers from across the nation, including Ben Root, Alex Treviño and Emily Potter, (upper left). Archer Hadley sits front and center

So there’s this thing called “The White House Student Film Festival” where The President asks K-12 students to submit films based on a certain theme. This years theme was “the impact of giving back”. As luck would have it, Ben Root and the AHS Student Reporting Labs team happened to already be producing a documentary about Archer Hadley, an AHS student with cerebral palsy, who was raising money to install automatic handicapped doors for the school. All we had to do was keep the film under 3 minutes and turn it in by the deadline and we were gold. Our confidence was high because our story was so awesome, no matter our skills as filmmakers. Story is king and we all knew that Archer’s story was gold on a platinum platter. Obama agreed and we were invited to come up and meet the President and a few of his filmmaking friends like Steve McQueen, Hillary Swank, and many others. We were not the only ones of course, our film was one of 16 films to make the cut, out of more than 1,500 entries.

Upon arrival on Friday,  The PBS NewsHour had a reception for us, and let us sit in on a taping of the show. Then they bought us dinner! The next day the team arrived at the White House for the big day. After three security checkpoints, we were in and spent the afternoon hanging out with Obama and watching the films. Sunday still had a lot in store for us as we convened at the Newseum for a day of filmmaking and acting workshops sponsored by the American Film Institute. We also screened the films one more time and had a filmmaker Q&A. The workshop ended with a party on the patio, where we received the presidential candy…red, white, and blue M&M’s. The rest of the day was spent sightseeing and galavanting around DC.

Official Selection – 2015 White House Film Festival
First Place – Student Television Network Spring Nationals Community Story Category
Best of Fest, Best Producing, Best Documentary – Austin Youth Film Festival

Produced, Directed & Edited by Ben Root
Emily Potter – Asst. Producer, Asst. Editor, Production Sound
Alex Treviño – 2nd Unit Director
Khunal Parkash – Key Grip, Assistant Camera
Keirra Ewah – Transcriptions, Production Asst.
Kevin MacLeod’s “Perspectives” used under the Creative Commons attribution 3.0 license

The pictures do no justice to how awesome the experience was, but here they are anyway!

KAHS chosen to help with SXSWedu

McCoy Johnston, Keirra Ewah, Ben Root and Mekiah Fox get ready to go to work

McCoy Johnston, Keirra Ewah, Ben Root and Mekiah Fox get ready to go to work

SXSWedu asked the crew to emcee the performance stage at the education expo this year. The team introduced performing acts and read announcements to the crowd for the duration of the event. When they weren’t on stage, they were either checking out what the expo had to offer, or hanging out in the green room, sipping on baja blasts and munching on Hot Cheeto’s.

AHS makes UIL finals for 2nd Year in a row

Ben Root made this film as an application to work at Amy’s Ice Cream. For those that don’t know, the popular local ice cream chain gives applicants a paper bag to decorate or use to creatively use as an application. So Ben used it in a film. He didn’t want to make it obvious that it was for Amy’s and wanted it to be a stand alone film as well. The film won 5th place in the State UIL film competition, taking us to the big show two years in a row.


A Day In The Life at Austin High School

AISD asked each high school to produce a promotional film about what life is like at their respective schools. I’m very proud of the team for coming up with this creative execution that doesn’t follow the standard branding film fare that has been so played out in recent years. We put a GoPro camera on 32 students, 4 teachers and one drone to pull off this amazing concept written by Cole Villarreal. Produced by Matt Perry and Gil Garcia with Barbara Laughlin as Assistant Producer. I even asked Geoffrey King who graduated in 2012 to help out as drone operator. A special screening was held at the brand new district performing arts center. The producers and crews from each school were invited to watch the work on the big screen and participate in a Q&A.

Geoffrey King operates the drone, Students wear the GoPro

Geoffrey King operates the drone, Students wear the GoPro

Matt Perry, (upper right corner) presents the film at a special screening alongside the student producers from other school and Dr. Cruz

Matt Perry, (upper right corner) presents the film at a special screening alongside the student producers from other schools and Dr. Cruz