In late March students and teachers from across Desert Sands Unified School District came together in the Performing Arts Center at Indio High School to celebrate the first ever DIGICOM DSUSD Showcase. Student films graced the screen produced, directed, filmed, edited, and starred in by students in elementary, middle, and high schools.

Digital storytelling can be found in all DSUSD schools and in many classrooms. But what exactly is it?

Today’s students are products of the 21st century and utilize technology in every aspect of their lives. In 2009 David Vogel, a retired film producer with some amazing credentials, relocated permanently to the desert to create DIGICOM Learning. His big idea was to further train teachers in the use of using video integrated in curriculum instruction. DIGICOM Learning Institute and their program were certified by the University of California, Riverside (UCR) Extension and DSUSD teachers receive a certificate jointly issued by DIGICOM and UCR verifying their digital storytelling excellence. Teachers compete for slots in the program and spend time during summer break honing their skills. To date, DIGICOM has trained over 350 teachers throughout the three valley school districts.

According to the DIGICOM website, “Digital storytelling skills enable students to create their own original videos. This process fosters critical thinking, creativity, communication, and collaboration.”

At the March event films were showcased that clearly revealed the educational process. Students at the elementary level produced a film on animal adaptation using animation and an innovative thought process. A team of high school students produced a film that made English grammar fun. Films on academic topics and those on social behavior, including bullying, make up the films that students create and learn from.

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Not So Undercover Sup: The cast and crew of the Not So Undercover Sup series.

Desert Sands students participate in film festivals, in after-school programs, and in filmmaking symposiums. The popular Not So Undercover Sup series of videos showcasing the various departments that make up Desert Sands Unified School District were, and are, created by high school students who create the script, plan the shoot, direct, edit, and everything in between. A teaser of the next episode was showcased at the event.

In addition to the work with our teachers, and the inspiring of our teachers, the DIGICOM/DSUSD partnership was celebrated that evening in the awarding of scholarships to our graduating high school students from Indio and Palm Desert high schools and equipment grants to our schools.

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The students from the FILM Academy at Palm Desert High School

Congratulations to Amelia Earhart Elementary School, Thomas Jefferson Middle School, and Indio and Palm Desert high schools for each receiving a $600 equipment grant. Our seniors received scholarships that evening from DIGICOM Learning. The scholarships will assist in their dreams continue in their roles as storytellers. Congratulations to $1,000 scholarship winners Renae Farias, Bexy Campos, and Irie Gonzalez of Indio High School; $750 award winners Ricardo Lopez and Alexis Torres of IHS; and $500 recipients Miranda Hernandez of Indio and Chad Compton and Peyton Huna of Palm Desert High School

For more information on DIGICOM and their work with teachers and students, click here. To see episodes from the Not So Undercover Sup series, click here. Friday, May 17 is the date of the annual 2019 DIGICOM Film Festival and is an opportunity to see quality films produced by students from across the valley. The event takes place from 6:30-8:30 pm at the Richards Center for the Arts at Palm Springs High School.

Image Sources

  • Not So Undercover Sup: DSUSD
  • Superintendent Scott Bailey with future filmmakers: DSUSD