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We Have Been Busy!

2020-21 School Year

Academic Achievement Awards:  The GMS Team gave 18 students an Academic Achievement Award after the Spring of 2020 semester.  The students had straight A E E on their final report card.  Congratulations for all of the successful students! 


Back-To-School Virtual Night:  GMS held an informational Zoom meeting on Back-to-School Night on September 2nd with parents, students, and staff to inform everyone of student expectations and on-line access in increase parent involvement.


Career Day:  On April 15, we had two students be the moderators for the event with different representatives from the Los Angeles Clippers.  They joined us on Zoom to discuss different careers with the professional basketball team and the various supporting industries.  


Collaborative Assignments:  In addition to several smaller interdisciplinary assignments, we completed a total of eight PBL (Project Based Learning) interdisciplinary and collaborative projects for GMS students:


9th Grade – Semester A = Students learned about the Hero's Journey story 

structure through literature and films. In their English class, they read a contemporary autobiography by Reyna Grande called The Distance Between Us, which is about a woman who grows up poor in Mexico and immigrated to the United States with her family. In their Environmental Studies and Health classes, they learned about people who have undertaken heroic efforts to effect positive change in the world.  In Video Production class, students formed production teams, identified real people who effect change in their communities, and interviewed them, all to gain a better understanding of how connecting with others makes a difference.  To connect all of their GMS classes, students discussed what it means to be a hero, and also the types of journeys people may embark on in life.


9th Grade -- Semester B = The second semesters project was “Coming of Age” with the driving questions: What does it mean to be coming of age as a teenager in 2020; What unique challenges and issues do you face that previous generations did not face; and what challenges and issues are universal to all generations? The collaborative assignment had each student writing a script, poem, song, or a journal entry to describe their coming of age experience that was then turned in a multimedia presentation for their video production class. 


10th Grade – Semester A = Where our families come from influences where we live, what we do, and how we see the world.  Our ancestry influences us today in different ways that may or may not be obvious.  Because of that, each family has its own dynamics in how it lives, works, communicates, and loves.  For the Fall Semester collaborative assignment, the collaborative project was called "Where I Am From." In their history class, students looked at their ancestry to learn about their heritage. In their English class, they created a poem that described with vivid imagery where they are from, discussing their childhood memories, family, friends, etc. In their film class, students created a two-minute film that is a visual representation of their poem, including a voice over of their poetry.


10th Grade -- Semester B = The Historical Fiction Narrative, the students took the research done in English and History classes of a historical figure and created a short sound design piece using voice, sound effects, and music to bring these figures to life.


11th Grade – Semester A = The collaborative project centering around a Gothic Horror Unit.  Students were posed a question to consider over the course of the unit: How does fear and the dark side of human nature overpower empathy, logic, and reason? In this unit, students read multiple short gothic horror stories, such as Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe. In their history class, students learned how the anxiety of the industrial revolution spurred stories of such a frightful and compelling nature. Then, students wrote their own Gothic narrative. In their film class, they converted their Gothic narrative into a script and work in groups to execute a five-minute Gothic horror film. In their art class, students created a ten-page Gothic horror comic book based of their narrative from English class.


11th Grade -- Semester B = Students completed several different independent 

projects focusing on life during the COVID-19 pandemic.


12th Grade – Semester A = Our seniors focused on Humanity Against Corporations 

and the military/industrial complex in relation to Magical Realism.  Students created films with magical elements and learned a great deal about special effects and production design.


12th Grade -- Semester B = Students psychoanalyzed human nature in the unit called "The Self." In English class, students wrote a poem analyzing themselves and their nature. Then, students read Macbeth and analyzed the ambition and greed of human nature. In Economics, students created a budget plan of all their expenses, thus, understanding their own personal greed. In their film class, students took their poem and turned it into a five-minute film with a voice over. In the art class, they created a five to ten-second animation that is a visual representation of their poem. 


ECCCO (Exploring College, Career, and Community Options) workbooks:  We continued utilizing the workbooks in our GMS elective classes for college and career preparation and awareness.


Experience Day:  Organized and hosted the “Experience” for 8th graders on Saturday, April 17, for students from all over the valley to learn more about the GMS Magnet and what we have to offer.  Normally done in person, we did the event on Zoom this year and it was still a huge success with parents, students, and staff.  


Virtual Field Trip:  On Thursday, September 24 at 3:00 pm, GMS students joined Nickelodeon, who partnered with the Advanced Animation Students at Burbank High School, to present an hour-long Animation Skills Writing Workshop.  The class, called “Writing Cartoons,” was taught by Rebeca Delgado, writer on the hit Nickelodeon series The Casagrandes. 


Film Festivals:  We had our GMS Magnet’s Fall Film Festival on December 11th and the Spring Film Festival on May 28th.   Both of the very successful events were posted on YouTube and showcased our students’ work and accomplishments during this challenging year.   


GMS Booster Club:  The group met monthly to involve parents and students for a very productive year of planning, organizing, hosting guest speakers, and coordinating GMS events.  Thank you for all your hard work and dedication to make our magnet even better!


Guest Speakers (eight presentations): 


Kimberly McCullough – Ms. McCullough was our guest speaker for a Master Class on August 31st.  She started as a child actress/dancer in Hollywood and for the last seven years has been directing television series such as One Day At A Time, THE BOLD TYPE and High School Musical.  She talked about her show biz story, how to create a career in Hollywood, and answered student questions.  A big thank you to Kimberly for sharing her experiences and words of wisdom.  In addition, a thank you to Becca Tesarfreund (VP of current programming at NBC Universal, CHS Media alumni, and GMS Advisory Board member) for coordinating the Zoom meeting.  Kimberly’s bio: 


Summer-Joy “SJ” Main Muñoz is an award-winning director, writer, and producer whose films have screened in over 200 festivals worldwide and was our Master Class guest on October 5th.  She has been selected for numerous competitive film labs and fellowships, including NBC's Female Forward, Ryan Murphy's Half Initiative, We For She's Direct Her, and programs by NALIP, WGAW, WIF, AWD, and FIND.  Before dedicating herself full-time to directing in the dramatic, historical and action/crime genres, SJ worked as a producer, unit production manager, production supervisor, coordinator, director of development, script editor, post supervisor, and executive assistant for film and commercials.  She has worked with filmmakers and companies including Merchant Ivory Productions, DreamWorks SKG, River Road Entertainment, and award-winning director Stanley Donen.


As a second-generation Latinx determined to increase Latino representation in film and TV, SJ has written for the Huffington Post on the subjects of Latino Film and Women in Media, and she was the Founder of the former Latino Film Fund and Latino Screenplay Competition. SJ has also lectured at Loyola Marymount University on the roles of the film director and producer.


Columbia College of Hollywood came to our GMS elective classes on October 8 and 9 to work with students on college and careers and what their school has to offer students interested in the arts, media, and entertainment fields.


Nicole T. Roberts joined GMS students on November 2 from 2:30 – 3:30pm for a Zoom Master Class.  She is a TV Reality Show and talked about her career, her work on Reality TV shows such as “Face Off “, “Undercover Boss” and “Nitro Circus.”  She answered student questions about how to plan a career in the film and TV industry and gave inspiration to students on following their dreams. 


Valor Entertainment Group:  Brandon Guzman and Carlos Bobadilla were joined by Xolo Mariduena (main character of Netflix show Cobra Kai) for our Master Class on December 7th.  The three of them talked with students about their backgrounds, options for students to get into the business, and different careers in the Hollywood.


Ryan Meinerding, the Head of Visual Development at Marvel Studios, joined GMS students on Zoom on May 19th.  Ryan is an amazingly talented artist with an incredible career as an illustration and visual development artist for Marvel Studios and others. 


Tiffany Ford met with about 13 of our students after school yesterday and talked with them for a little over an hour.  She graduated from Cleveland and has since gone to CSUN and CAL Arts, and worked at Cartoon network over the last ten plus years as a colorist, designer, animator, story board artist, writer, voice actor, and director.  Her freelance work can be seen in published illustrations and in other animations as well as an award-winning ad.


Mrs. Dahn Ballard joined six of our GMS Magnet classes to help launch the new unit on intolerance as part of our World War Two interdisciplinary project.  She began the presentation with screening her video "The Red Dot Experiment" where school children went through a class lesson on discrimination.  The simple but powerful video illustrated how discrimination "feels" and the conversation that ensues, moving beyond discrimination one dot at a time.  She then led the class on a cooking demonstration while making her "Rock Star Equity World Bowl" where each delicious ingredient was a component to making the world a better place for everyone.  One student stated that "I like how you connected the acai bowl to society."  To watch the video, go to 


International Day of Peace:  We participated in the event on September 21st in conjunction with the International Youth Media Summit and screened an episode of the SANATIONE series. 


International Youth Media Day (IYMD):  On Saturday, March 13th, GMS Magnet and TIME Club held its annual celebration.  Normally taking place on Cleveland’s campus, the event this year was virtual and included young people from around the globe to show the power of youth, media, and the arts to communicate, inspire and entertain.  There were student song and dance performances, music, poetry, and art exhibits.  


International Youth Media Summit (IYMS):  Participated in the 15th successful IYMS and on-line event from August 1 - 9, 2020 where our students joined young people from around the world to make seven different PSA videos on issues and raise social awareness.  We also helped plan the upcoming IYMS for this Summer from July 22 to August 1, 2021.


International Virtual Visit:  The GMS Magnet was visited by an Israeli delegate, Rom Gvili, on November 11th.  We work closely with L.A. International Visitors Council and the U.S. State Department to participate in cross-cultural exchanges. 


Interventions:  After the 10-week and 20-week report card periods, GMS teachers contacted and met with nearly 30 GMS students to determine what they need to raise their grades and to help them be successful in school.


Linked Learning:  The LAUSD program supplied GMS Magnet with a designated staff person who met regularly with our teachers to plan and coordinate all of our hands-on interdisciplinary projects, Mock Interviews, and Senior Portfolio Defense.


Linked Learning Silver Certification:  GMS was awarded Silver Certification by the LAUSD program due to our work on interdisciplinary and hands-on projects, collaboratively teaching and planning, and the extra support and activities that GMS provides for our students.  Linked Learning also helps us to provide a high-quality college and career learning experience for our GMS students. 


Mentor Mixer:  The GMS students met on Zoom monthly after school to get to know each other better and make connections during the year of distant learning.  In additional to ice-breakers, students played on-line games like scriblio and trivial pursuit.  It was a great way for students to interact in a social setting to help improve their social and emotional health.


Mock Job Interviews:  Conducted the Mock Interviews on April 8 and 9 for all of the GMS juniors on Zoom by volunteers.  Our 11th grade class teachers helped prepare the students by conducting resume and interview training before the event to prepare them for summer internships.


Newsletter:  The GMS Magnet Newsletter, The Discovery, went out every month to inform students, parents, industry partners, and community members of what GMS had been doing recently and what to expect in the upcoming month.  


Open House:  GMS staff hosted the virtual event on March 18th which highlighted our student accomplishments this year for current and prospective parents and students.


SANATIONE:  Our GMS students' films were selected to be part of this international collaborative web series.  GMS students worked with IYMS Films and has enlisted documentary filmmakers from twenty-two countries to show us the pandemic from their point of views.  At this difficult moment we see a unique invitation to tell the story of what’s happening as it unfolds, and, more importantly, to explore the lessons and messages to be learned by this pandemic.  These filmmakers will contribute something indelible, timeless and deeply important to the future. 


These stories will be woven together first in a web series, and ultimately a film, that will reveal nothing less than who we are and what we are made of.  Before the Coronavirus invaded, we had equally virulent diseases dividing us: tribalism, hatred, poverty, injustice, greed, the mindless destruction of our eco system.  These divisive factors only multiplied the power of COVID-19 to fragment us further.  Before social distancing was mandated, we had become distant from each other and from nature. SANATIONE will explore a premise: this virus might be a test for humanity.  It might be a last resort. 


Senior Awards Ceremony:  We held our annual ceremony to celebrate our graduating seniors on-line on May 21st.  The event was a wonderful way to celebrate the seniors finishing their Senior Portfolio Defenses and a chance for staff to announce the winners of the GMS scholarships and senior class awards.  The students also chose and announced their class awards for their classmates.  The seniors then picked up their certificates, a GMS swag bag, and CHS items the next day during the senior drive-through event at Cleveland’s campus.


Senior Portfolio and Portfolio Defense:  Our GMS 12th graders submitted their Senior Portfolio on May 10th on-line this year using the website.  Their Portfolio is a collection of their student work (assignments, videos, artwork, essays, resume, etc.) while in high school and submitted to one of their 12th grade GMS teachers.  The students then choose two of their Portfolio items, or artifacts, to present to a panel for their Senior Portfolio Defense during the week of May 17th.  Considering this was the first year we had our students submit their Portfolio digitally and then conducted a full-blown Portfolio Defense, all being done virtually, was absolutely incredible and the seniors did wonderful!  Thank you to all the many volunteers who helped make this real-world experience possible for our students.  


Staff Professional Development (PD):  We held weekly grade-level meetings throughout the school year for staff PD, curriculum design, and collaborative planning.  The regular meetings were also instrumental in allowing us to plan interdisciplinary projects, special events and activities, and to meet the diverse needs of our common students by grade level.  


Summer Bridge program (June 29 – July 17, 2020, from 9am to 1pm):  Incoming GMS Magnet freshmen students participated in the three-week program to introduce them to GMS and the expectations of high school.  This year was conducted on-line by Ms. Bondy and had 35 incoming freshmen participating with three paid student teachers and five teaching assistants.


Alumni Accomplishments:  

  • Mae Catt is a staff writer for Hasbro, working on the “Transformer” series.  

  • Rebecca Tesarfreund is a Director of Current Programming at NBC Universal.  

  • Mike Manning is a producer, director and special effects supervisor.  He has his own production company, BME Films, and this year directed the short “Nano”, which has screened in various film festivals around the world.

  • Michael Mazzola is a writer and producer, and his documentary “Unacknowledged” was the #1 documentary on iTunes in 2017.

  • Ben Mitnick is an independent editor working on both scripted and reality-based television shows.  

  • Sonny Menga became Head of Editorial for Rodeo EFX in Montreal and Quebec.

  • Angelina French works at Lightstorm Entertainment, James Cameron’s Production Company.

  • Antonio Manriquez, former technical assistant for the Media Academy, now works for Apple Education.

  • Billimarie Robinson works for the Message Agency, creating websites.  She co-founded a nonprofit, CLASP, dedicated to prisoners’ rights.

  • Paul Pendarvis works as an editor, online magazine producer and assistant producer.

  • Emily Greene works as an editor for FX Networks.

  • Jose Bucio works as an editor for the Nerd Mastery YouTube channel.

  • Blake Bogosian works as an editor in San Francisco, and is also producing his independent film series, “100% Human”.  

  • Spencer Thompson works as a post-production assistant on “Better Call Saul”.  

  • Brenda Hernandez and Kevin Somoza produced a short, “Harold”.  Brenda also works as a graphics and webdesigner for Van Nuys Airport, and Kevin works for a popular YouTube channel.

  • Melissa Perez works as a production assistant for reality TV shows, including, “Big Brothers” and “American Ninja Warrior” and Buzzfeed, the online news and entertainment channel.

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