girl standing on rocks overlooking the ocean, a seaweed 'whip' is in her hand

What Reel Youth is bringing to students on Cortes Island in 2022

The first of two school programs that Reel Youth hopes to run on Cortes Island during 2022 is already approved.

“We have a program launching in January. That’s for Partners in Education (PIE) students, mostly middle school youth who are doing a homeschooling course,” said Mark Vonesch, Director of Reel Youth.

There are currently 9 Cortes Island enrolled in the PIE program through school District 47 in Powell River

Some are among the 12 students, aged 9 to 14, that signed up for the course that starts in January.

Seren Anderson’s ‘Where I AM’ uses a similar process to that used in the PIE course

It will be using a ‘fill in the blanks’ structure similar to mad libs comic books.  

“We’ve taken that concept and developed something called the ‘I am from’ poem. People fill in the blanks with their personal life experiences and their family culture. That is going to be the base of their film. Then they shoot visuals to go on top of it, pick music and edit it all,” explained Vonesch.

The course will end with a virtual film festival. 

Mark Vonesch, founder and Director of Reel Youth – submitted photo

Erica Køhn co-founded Reel Youth, along with Vonesch, 15 years ago, and will be one of the facilitators for the upcoming PIE program. 

The other facilitator will be Mariam Barry, who has already worked with Cortes young people on a number of other projects.

Reel Youth has worked with school boards all across Canada, but this program is special. 

“It is the first time that working with partners in education and having middle school aged kids on Cortes get credit for their program,” said Vonesch.

“We’re also in conversation with School district 72 (Greater Campbell River) and a group of people on Cortes that sees the need for a high school programming tap in here. We’re developing a five week fully credited high school course where youth from the island can participate. Also, the idea is to bring youth from outside of Cortes and have them board here and to be able to get high school credits for participating in the program.” 

Køhn said they are still fleshing the course contents out, but are already hearing feedback from people excited about the prospect of a local course where young people can be immersed in filmmaking.

Co-founder and Artistic Director of Reel Youth

“One of our specialties is looking at curriculum beyond just filmmaking: looking at Social, at English, at languages, Geography, anything that is needing to be covered and finding ways of winding them into our programming,” she explained.

“So I think it’s going to be a lot more than just learning filmmaking. It’s going to be collaborative art. It’s going to be young people working together and meeting each other and working intensively together. 

Vonesch said most of Reel Youth’s programs are off island, but they love working on Cortes where they have an office and already know many of the youth, parents and the community.  

Top photo credit: Screenshot from Serena Anderson’s film ‘Where I am’

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