Showcase

Hello! For the past two years I have had the privilege to be surrounded by creative and ambitious peers and mentors. The people I’ve met here at Freestyle have fostered my interests in creative direction, cinematography, and design.

The Yummy Podcast

During the podcasting unit in my senior year, I teamed up with my good friend Ari to create a podcast. . . about yogurt!

Ari and Katherine at Sprout's
Ari and Katherine at the local Sprouts Farmers Market: gathering yogurt and foley

Why make a podcast? Chances are you’ve taken over 12+ English classes or at least a handful if you did not grow up in America. Youth voices are vital in the exchange of free speech; We are powerful storytellers. Yet, almost none of the research papers or short narratives we write see the light of day past our teacher’s desk. Our motivation to contribute to on-going dialogue in the “real world” is watered by half-hearted essays. I always had trouble liking English in high school because my motivation to use my voice was watered down by writing essays that had little meaning to me.

We are powerful storytellers. Yet, almost none of the research papers or short narratives we write see the light of day past our teacher’s desk.

The podcasting unit, however, was an exciting opportunity to collaborate and create. Ari and I shared many laughs and agonized over our script for hours.

recording in the studio
Ari and Katherine in the studio!

Podcasts are an appealing medium to a wide range of people and easily accessible. This project was a challenge: as a visual storyteller it’s difficult to think purely in terms of sound and word. But the payoff? A product suited to truly have our voices heard.

About the Podcasters. . .

Katherine’s favorite yogurt growing up was Yoplait whipped strawberry. However, she is now lactose-intolerant (sad), but like any other lactose-intolerant still makes a routine sacrifice for cheese. In her free time Katherine enjoys

Ari secretly doesn’t really like yogurt (I mean it’s okay, I’m not obsessed with it), yet here he is creating a podcast about yogurt. In his free time Ari enjoys going home and eating Captain Crunch cereal when he told his friends he’s “Omw!”

Looking Back

I’m proud of this product because it is a balance between professionalism and humor. Ari and I’s collaboration excelled as we encountered successes and failures to create The Yummy Podcast. I’ll cherish the uncomfortable, but gratifying moment in English class of our peers erupting in laughter as we give kudos to Mr. Greco’s (our english teacher) favorite yogurt.

Hazy Truth: The Vaping Epidemic and Youth Nicotine Addiction

I used to laugh at the sight of my friends puffing out minty or fruity flavored smoke from a USB-looking device they just couldn’t let go.

It feels like half of teenagers are addicted to a device that looks like some USB stick, and the other half laughs at their friends for their inability to part from their vaping device. A meme culture had arisen from a culture of addiction. How can we take addiction seriously if ignorant humor is blindly attached to it?

My friend Kate Ahrens and I shared similar concerns for our friends and feelings of confusion. Together, we began to uncover the hazy truth behind the vaping industry and addiction itself.

Kate (on the right) and I at Freestyle Exhibition 2020

Although I began research on nicotine addiction purely out curiosity, and with a pre-assumption that nicotine addiction was a joke, the further I dug, the more astounding the facts became. Nicotine addiction was just declared a vaping youth epidemic by the FDA in 2017. The further into the process of research, the more important it became for me to produce a documentary that was not facetious, but real and candid.

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A vaping youth epidemic

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Hazy Truth – Documentary Film

Watch the documentary I co-directed with Kate Ahrens in our junior year.

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Hazy Truth – Research Paper

Clicking on the preview page will bring you to my research paper.

Process

During the documentary unit I worked on producing a documentary film and writing a research paper. The two went hand in hand. I educated myself on the effects of vaping, how vaping started, and how the FDA failed to protect our youth. To film the documentary film, I gained professional experience conducting interviews and took extensive measures for my interviewees privacy and consent.

Color correction and other final touches.

In the editing room, I started to feel guilt for cutting and pasting words to my heart’s desire. Using my storytelling skills from the prior narrative unit, I juxtaposed blurbs from a youth addict to a medical professional. This made the message impactful, but could at times weaken the perspective of the youth. What I learned was that although my friends were addicted, they were not ignorant. And preserving the value in their voices was a vital part of the story.

Looking Back

Looking back, I valued the real-world experience gained from this unit. Not only did it challenge my creative direction, but it taught me how to be effective in time management and communication skills. I’ve never sent out so many emails to politicians, doctors, police, school administrators – the responses I received (and the lack thereof) taught me to never give up. I learned that if I wanted to produce a good documentary, it wasn’t so much relying on my own writing or art skills, but rather how bold and ambitious I am.

The Freestyle Experience

The people I’ve met at Freestyle have truly changed my life for the better. At Freestyle, you work hard not because you want a good grade, but because you are eager to learn and pursue your passions. I’ve learned to be a better communicator, collaborator, classmate, and artist. The laughs and tears, the experiences and knowledge I’ve shared here at Freestyle will always have an impact on me. I’m proud to be apart of the Freestyle community.

The collaborative, seminar-style classes I’ve taken with an eclectic group of students have opened my eye to particular academic environment I thrive in. Being the “unconventional” film student, I enjoyed class not just for making films, but for learning from the unique talents in the room. At Freestyle, you will find musicians, fine artists, animators… the list goes on. And finding a passion to write in the first time in my life made me realize the impact Freestyle’s class structure and community have on my personal and academic growth.

With its similarities to Freestyle, NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study became my dream school, and the only school I could positively see myself grow academically and creatively. I can proudly say I’ll be attending this fall 2020 (or maybe fall 2021? a gap year is currently in question).

Freestyle was the highlight of my day for the last two years of high school. The projects and the people here taught me to work hard, but have fun while you’re at it, every single day.

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