Monday, December 03, 2007

Vacaville Charter School Offers Video, Animation Courses

Vacaville Charter School Offers Video, Animation Courses
By Nika Megino | Daily Republic | December 02, 2007 23:19

FAIRFIELD - This is Wayne Hardy's last year of high school, and he has never been to a homecoming event. He has never enjoyed lunch in a cafeteria. But he has no regrets.

'We're offered a lot more opportunities here,' Hardy said.

Hardy is one of 425 students who attends Buckingham Charter Magnet School, a college preparatory high school located in a business plaza on Bella Vista Road in Vacaville. The campus may lack facilities, but the students call the schools' programs 'worthwhile.'

The biggest hit at Buckingham Charter is its Visual Media Arts Department. Inside the school's walls are a recording studio, a video studio and a lab filled with the latest Macintosh computers.

This year, the school has teamed with the Vacaville Unified School District and the Solano County Office of Education to provide two new courses: Video Editing and 3-D Animation. The classes are a part of the county's Regional Occupational Program and are open to all Solano County high school students.

Buckingham Charter Principal Bob Hampton said these new courses along with other courses such as sound engineering, video production and film production are 'cutting edge' for Solano County.

Teacher Jared Austin, who teaches both Video Editing and 3-D Animation, said the students will benefit from the new courses. 'They'll be a step ahead,' Austin said.

Students are awed by the software and equipment made available to them.

'It's top of the line. I never really dealt with stuff like this,' said Ryan Walker, who transferred from Alabama last year.

'We can edit and do everything all the professionals can do,' Hardy said.

The courses provide students with career opportunities because they can learn skills that other high schools do not offer, Hampton said. 'These are the kind of skill sets the future is really going to embark on,' Hampton said. 'We're a media-driven society.'

That is the very reason senior Denny Kelly transferred to Buckingham Charter after attending Vacaville High School for three years.

Kelly, an aspiring video director, said he left Vacaville High which is fully equipped with the standard high school facilities because he was interested in the video courses at Buckingham Charter.

'Most of that stuff didn't matter anyway,' Kelly said of Vacaville High's offerings.

The choices of courses was not the only attraction for Kelly. Buckingham Charter also offers a class schedule that is different from traditional high schools. Students attend three two-hour classes Mondays through Thursdays and three one-hour classes on Fridays.

Having two-hour classes allows teachers to go deep into a subject and gives them time to ensure all students are retaining the information, Kelly said. Because the student body is small, Kelly said the teachers are more attentive to the students and the teaching-learning process.

'It's closer of a community,' Kelly said.

'The teachers know you on a name basis,' Hardy said. 'They want to get to know you as a person.'

Reach Nika Megino at 427-6953 or

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