Downey High gets grant to build sound stage

DOWNEY - Downey High students interested in pursuing careers in the TV, film, and entertainment industry will now have its own multi-media sound stage where they can learn all facets of the business, from acting to directing and producing, thanks to a $10,000 grant from Lowe's hardware store, with hands-on support from Skills USA, Supervisor Don Knabe's office, and the school district's ROP and Career Technical Education (CTE) program.The presentation was made last Thursday by Lowe's human resources manager Laura Guesnon to Downey High's Dave Thompkins, who has been conducting makeshift classes outdoors to members of his Skills USA- and ROP/CTE-sanctioned Club Entourage class. The planned sound facility will occupy Room I-1, located at the back of the administration building by Brookshire Avenue. Pre-grant, it was used for storage purposes. It was cleared of dust and debris for the occasion. Thompkins said that, when completed sometime in May, the sound stage will indeed be named "Studio I-1." The immediate beneficiaries of the new facility, similar to the one built, also with the help of Lowe's funds, at Warren High last year, are the 20-odd members on campus of Club Entourage. Plans for Studio I-l include offering a class in the evening for members of the community. Thompkins said that when current mayor Roger Brossmer was then principal at Downey Adult School, he at one time offered a class on "Everything You Wanted to Know About Acting but Were Afraid to Ask." Thus he knows there are many Downey residents out there who'd benefit from such sound stage training, either for personal or commercial considerations. Thompkins, who has taught Special Ed English and coached various sports at the school for 11 years, has had extensive experience doing commercials, co-producing TV specials, and done acting jobs in 20-plus years in the TV and entertainment field. He also said he'll see if Studio I-1 can obtain a space later at Downey High's Automotive Center for use as an outdoor set. Thompkins said he got the idea for the grant from Frida Vadgama, who is Downey High's lead teacher for the Skills USA program. He submitted the application at the end of October, and the Lowe's decision was handed down in January.

********** Published: March 22, 2012 - Volume 10 - Issue 49