It’s a Countdown to Lights, Camera, Action at Indio and Palm Desert high schools

Today’s article introduces the media production programs at Indio High School and Palm Desert High School. Both offer students opportunities in the fields of broadcasting and media production from on-air skills to writing to camera and so much more.


Feel the IMPACT

By Alex Jackson, teacher and program coordinator

IHS and PDHS Ready for Lights, Camera, Action


Indio High School is at the heart of the arts and entertainment industry in the Coachella Valley. With Indio home to Coachella Fest, Indio High School serves as a base to the art and creative culture that feeds into those events. The Institute of Media Production Arts and Creative Technology (IMPACT) is a career and technical education pathway at Indio High School. The pathway develops student skills in the areas of media that shape our culture today.

Filmmaking, graphic design, audio production, broadcast, animation, and leadership are essential skills for postsecondary education and careers in the arts, media, and entertainment. These are essential and growing industries and IMPACT serves to build literacy in these digital media spaces.

IMPACT students develop dynamic resumes and digital portfolios while gaining hands-on and real-world experience through a wide variety of projects, presentations, community/industry partnerships, and work-based learning opportunities.

With a full broadcast studio on campus, students are exposed to the fast-paced problem-solving of live digital media streaming. They learn on industry standard technology, as well as new technologies that make this process more accessible to everyone. Whether it is a cutting edge 4K broadcast camera or a smartphone, students gain the skills to create compelling narratives with aesthetic prowess.

IHS and PDHS Ready for Lights, Camera, Action


IMPACT partners with the community to host live-streaming events and create commercial content that shines a spotlight on local businesses. This allows students to learn real world skills, while also supporting the community at large, and recognize that the work of media has a very tangible impact on the community of which they are a part.

The IMPACT students consistently express that the pathway has left an indelible mark on their lives, given them a community of like-minded peers, and given them the opportunity to pursue their greatest goals.

“Impact is an academy where you can show what you love […] you can work on that skill, you can even learn from each other and work together on amazing things,” says Briana Rodriguez, an incoming junior. “At the end of the day, the class is like a family where we help one another and learn together.”

All IMPACT courses are A-G approved with the University of California, California State University, and are CTE approved. This ensures that students are ready to enter top tier colleges in film and television, communication, or any other area that stems from media creation and marketing.

We are preparing to grow the program and continue to serve the community at large as we return from this pandemic school year. To see what we’re doing and how you can support the program click here or visit


Take Two!

By Joseph Martin, teacher and program coordinator

IHS and PDHS Ready for Lights, Camera, Action

PDHS Broadcasting

I moved to Palm Desert in 2014 hoping to create a film and broadcasting program at Palm Desert High School similar to the one I had established at a high school in Kentucky. Then principal, Bob Hicks, was very interested but said it would probably be a couple of years before he could get a program started.

I stayed in the industry and worked at a local television station until Mr. Hicks contacted me in the fall of 2016, asking if I would oversee the once-a-week lunch period film club while helping write the courses to start the program. I was hired full time and we began offering classes for Film & Broadcasting I and II in 2017. We now also offer Film & Broadcasting III and IV and have gone on to construct a large classroom and studio, a news set, cyclorama wall, equipment room, control room, and audio/radio broadcasting room.

The arts, media, and entertainment sector of the California CTE programs is far-and-away the largest sector and continues to grow each year. This field offers a wide variety of career opportunities especially since we are so close to the largest film production area in the world. We also have several broadcasting studios and film production companies located here in our valley.

IHS and PDHS Ready for Lights, Camera, Action

PDHS students testing the cameras while filming on site at the Movie Ranch.

While our focus at Palm Desert High School is to teach all aspects of the industry, our primary focus is behind the camera. Students learn how to use the technology, conduct interviews, create short documentaries, promotional videos, and public service announcements. We also do a few narrative film projects and have created some outstanding music videos. This gives students the opportunity to add projects to their portfolios. Our students go on to major in film and broadcasting in college or head directly into the industry workforce. The goal is that students can, at a minimum, land a job as a production assistant in either the film industry or at a broadcast facility whether they choose to continue their education or go right into a career.

We have won several prestigious awards and recognitions and students are being accepted into some of the top schools for mass communication. PSAs, music videos, and short documentary projects have won honors at the Digicom Film Festival and the Inland Empire Film Festival. This year we had a video recognized for honorable mention in the Directing Change Film Contest. Several students won gold, silver, and bronze medals at the SkillsUSA regional competition and our broadcast news team took home bronze at the SkillsUSA State Conference this year.

Two years ago we had a team win the gold medal at the State Conference for Career Pathway Showcase and advanced to the SkillsUSA National Conference in Louisville, KY, where they placed fifth in the country.

We work throughout the community and a documentary project for Desert X won the Communicators Award in the student category honoring excellence in communication. Projects have included work with the DSUSD district office, the cities of Indian Wells and Palm Desert, and a weekly streaming production for

This program, along with other CTW pathways, offer students a direct career path. For more information on the program email me at


Image Sources

  • IHS IMPACT in studio: DSUSD
  • PDHS broadcasting: DSUSD
  • Pdhs-students-testing-the-cameras-while-filming-on-site-at-the-movie-ranch: DSUSD