By LILY TINOCO | Reporter
As the 2019-20 school year draws to an end, the community continues to celebrate the hard work of students and their accomplishments—even if it’s virtual.
Palisades Charter High School’s Rick Steil, who has been teaching AP Photography for the last nine years, reflected on this year’s group and what next year might look like.
Steil said he teaches the class more as an independent program, giving students the range to explore different mediums from film to digital to multimedia.
Steil explained that every year, Pali High has a Visual and Performing Arts Showcase that radiates creativity. The event features performances by the band, choir, color guard—in conjunction with a visual art show that displays paintings, drawings, ceramics and photography.
This year the event wasn’t an option due to social distancing measures and the campus remaining closed, but Steil still put together a virtual showcase for the class to delve into.
“You have all these images … and you get to see the different visuals created by 100 zip codes from Pali students, and that’s why the photo program is great,” Steil said to the Palisadian-Post. “We’re so diverse, we come from so many different places with different voices … we come from so many socio-economic backgrounds that we all have different lives.
“And students don’t even realize it sitting next to each other because they’re people in my room, the money and all of that doesn’t really hold weight in the classroom,” Steil added. “You see everything from people struggling with poverty, packed into an apartment, then you see somebody in a 10,000-square-foot house in the Palisades … it’s a great learning experience for Pali … it’s like a bridge.”
Steil also said the transition to online learning wasn’t too challenging, and he actually found a greater ability to connect with students individually.
“It was almost easier for me to see the kids that weren’t getting taken care of, that were getting lost a little bit because it was apparent,” Steil said. “Whereas otherwise, there’s so much commotion going on that it’s easy to slip under the chaos.”
He said that nobody failed his class, and students were able to maintain or better their grades.
He also said his group averaged very well on their portfolios that were submitted to the College Board. AP exams are scored on a scale from 1 to 5, Steil was proud to report that Pali students averaged roughly 4.7.
Steil only fears not having the opportunity to build a foundation of connection with next year’s incoming class.
“We had the luxury of six months, of our students buying into who we were what we were about, a connection,” Steil said. “My AP class, I’ll have that because I’ve had them before, but all my beginning kids and like 80% of my students, I will have never met before.”
But he also looks forward to eventually incorporating three-dimensional art in the classroom, something he recently got approved to do. The plans include printing and placing emulsions and different images on wood or other materials, creating art that contains elements of depth.
“We’ve taken the 2-D world and we’re going to turn it upside down and create a 3-D world out of it,” Steil said about the addition to the class.
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