The Student News Site of Fluvanna County High School

Western Productions

November 20, 2019


Photo provided by David Small

Seniors Jules Shephard and Sasha Federico sitting for lunch.

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Visiting somewhere new can either be very exciting or a bit terrifying. For seniors Jules Shepherd and Sasha Federico, a recent trip to California with Television Production teacher David Small and English teacher Lauren Struzik ended up being both. They spent a week in Southern California as part of a student documentary team presenting at the iNACOL Symposium, a leading event for K-12 personalized, competency-based education. The trip also gave the students an opportunity to get more insight into pursuing a TV production or film career. 

Getting across the country proved to be the slightly terrifying part for Federico. “The whole experience was new. I rode in a plane for the first time, [and] I threw up in a plane for the first time,” she said. After getting there, however, the fun began. Staying at AirBnB locations, the students and teachers spent time in Palm Springs and Los Angeles. They saw a number of different attractions including the San Jacinto Mountains, Joshua Tree National Park, the Santa Monica beach and pier, the San Andreas fault. The highlight of their week was possibly their visits to Warner Brothers Studios and Dreamworks Studio. “We toured the Dreamworks studio with Mr. Small’s neighbor’s son. He became a storyboard artist even though he had only just begun drawing two years ago,” said Shepherd.  

She said that other memorable moments included eating authentic Mexican and Cuban food, playing arcade games, and watching the sunset on the beach. “We were sitting at this restaurant with a former student of Mr. Small’s who became really far in the TV network. He told Sasha and I about all the jobs open and waiting for people like us to take, [which] was very reassuring,” she said. Federico agreed. “It was really inspiring to meet an official from Dreamworks Animation and wiip Studios. What they said really struck a cord and gave me hope for my future.” Both students enjoyed getting a behind-the-scenes look at how movies and television shows are recorded.

Overall, they found the atmosphere of California to be very different from Virginia. “The sky was clear everyday, but it was still relatively cold and very innovative all around Palm Springs and LA,” explained Shepherd. Federico added that the weather “was definitely unpredictable. You really don’t know how to prepare.” They returned from California with souvenirs for their family.

When asked if revisiting California is in her plans, Shepherd said, “Yes, California is beautiful and there is still so much I would like to do.”

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About the Contributor
Photo of MacKenzie Tillman
MacKenzie Tillman, FCHS Journalist

MacKenzie is a senior in her first year of Journalism. She likes playing with her dog and being with friends.

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