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Cleveland High School for Digital Arts ends year with showcase of work (Photo gallery)




At Cleveland High School for Digital Arts, class projects don’t end when students turn them in.

Twice a year, the students present their best work in video game design, audio production, film production and graphic design, along with projects from their core classes, during a schoolwide event. The school held a “Red Carpet Showcase” on Tuesday to highlight student work from the second half of the school year.

Cleveland High School for Digital Arts is a year-round school located in Downtown Cleveland. The school recently graduated its first class.

The showcase day, which was held the day before students' last day of class, began with an awards ceremony for academic achievement and strong attendance. In the afternoon, students rotated among classrooms to learn about projects that students in other grades had completed. Each rotation included a presentation of digital artwork, video game design and music videos students created in class.

Principal Jasmine Maze said the showcase is an integral part of the project-based learning model at the high school and gives students a chance to reflect on their learning.

“We want them to think about the process they came up with to get through the project and also get a sense of what they took away from it,” Maze said.

In one classroom, a ninth-grader named Anthony explained a science project where he built a “rocket launcher” and tracked data on how far certain objects traveled when launched. His teacher connected the project to the popular Marvel comic book superhero Captain America, which Anthony said made the concept more approachable.

“It ties everything we learn back together in a fun way that kids can engage with,” Anthony said. “If we just did paper and pencil work and took tests, it would get boring and things would just go in one ear and out the other.”

Tenth-graders presented their findings from a project that examined the consequences of possible reactions to a hypothetical zombie apocalypse. That in-depth, research-heavy project crossed four disciplines: algebra, biology, American history and English. Students had to draft a plan for ecological resiliency, create mathematical models to be used in a report to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and compare data across geographic and chronological spans.

Students from each class also received awards, in the form of gold statuettes resembling Oscar awards, for their creative endeavors. Film teacher Jimmie Woody said it’s important for the school to emphasize creativity along with academics.

“We decided to hand out awards to create an engine for the students to want to do great work,” Woody said. “We’re a new school, and we’re still trying to build a name for ourselves. But our students already have such creativity, and they want to do well.”

One recent graduate, Marvin, stopped by to be part of the day's events. He discovered a love for film while attending Digital Arts, and plans to study film at Wright State University, starting this fall.

“The kind of things that I got to do at Digital Arts -- writing, editing and camera work -- you don’t really get to do that at any other high school,” he said.

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