The joyful noise of ivory keys permeates from Indian Valley Academy on Wednesday mornings and from Plumas Charter School’s Quincy site on Friday afternoons. Greg Willis, Arts, Media and Entertainment Pathway Coordinator is in the building teaching a class of enthusiastic high school students.
This year, PCS students are offered classes in video production, piano and an online music theory class from Sierra College as part of the Arts, Media and Entertainment Pathway.
The pathway is part of the grant-funded Career and Technical Education Program (CTE) where ninth- through twelfth-graders are invited to learn marketable skills. Thanks to the funding, high school students are able to work with brand new M1 MacBooks, professional recording equipment and weighted-key pianos in Willis’ classes.
During a visit to a video production class, students collaborated on a stop-action video. One student experimented with audio to enhance the video while the others took the photographs. Later, they compiled 140 still-shots into a 14 second video showcasing the meticulous work that goes into production. “I’m so impressed with you,” Willis told his students.
The aspiring artists are encouraged to collaborate, work independently, try new techniques, make mistakes and then try again. “There are so many career paths in arts, media and entertainment. I tell my students that if they don’t find something they like, they can make their own,” said Willis.
Before the class transitioned into their piano lesson, Willis brought out some colorful boomwhackers to the delight of the students. “This class is fun, these were all over TikTok,” shared one student. They took turns conducting their peers and teacher, experimenting with sound and rhythm and ending each round in laughter.
After a short break, Willis lined up the weighted-key pianos for their lesson. While a few students shared that they had previous music experience, the others were interested in the pathway to learn something new. During the lesson, they practiced reading music while perfecting the chords Willis demonstrated.
Willis said that he is excited about the future of the program. “Sierra College has a great art and entertainment program, our partnership with them is going to benefit students interested in furthering their education in those areas.” Plans are also being made to introduce PCS seventh and eighth grade students to the pathway through early engagement experiences like music crafts and live concerts.
Willis studied music at Humboldt University and has worked in film scoring on nature films. When he isn’t teaching, you can find him playing in his Blues duo band, Willis & Walker or with student bands, Clinch Mountain or the Quincy Pickers.
PCS also offers programs in agriscience, food service, forestry and natural resources, outdoor recreation and patient care. For more information, visit: www.plumascharterschool.org
Rachel Goings is the public relations specialist for Plumas Charter School