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  • Coronado State Testing - April 16, juniors arrive at 7:40 and sophomores at 11:30 - April 17, freshman arrive at 7:40 and juniors arrive at 11:30 for CMAS
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  • Juniors/Sophomores take the SAT/PSAT on April 16th, Freshmen take the PSAT and Juniors take the CMAS on April 17.
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The Rainbow Connection: How a Local Program Creates Artistic Opportunity and Builds Community

Katherine Beard
YDA graduates attending the world premiere of their respective documentaries

The Youth Documentary Academy serves aspiring filmmakers from ages fourteen to eighteen, teaching them the fundamentals of documentary filmmaking during a rigorous 8-week course, and – perhaps like some readers – I had never heard of it. Well, at least not until last week, when I spoke with Bogdan Richardson, Class of 2024, a recent graduate of the program, whose documentary was released in November of last year.

“I never really had made a documentary,” Bogdan said, describing his introduction to the course: “in April of last year, Mr. Philipsen approached me to join the Youth Documentary Academy,” which promises to facilitate student growth in “all aspects of documentary filmmaking from pre-production, shooting, editing and distribution,” according to their website.

For the first month, students are acquainted with basic cinematography skills, including workshops on writing, analysis, and storyboarding. While slightly unconventional, Bogdan was drawn to poetry, though – as linear stories – documentaries are not typically well suited for such a medium, which is not always held by the boundaries of a narrative structure. Yet, despite his mentors’ objections, Bogdan remained steadfast: “I wanted to push the boundaries of creativity and see what I could do.”

The documentary’s subject matter proved unconventional as well, portraying mental isolation by way of colors and scenery to create a unique emotional experience. Guided by his interviewees, Bogdan developed a conceptual exploration of the human psyche, positing that loneliness is not only uniquely human but connects us in a reality of ever-increasing disconnection.

One participant described feeling invisible after his move to the United States, accompanied by visuals of busy streets and rundown buildings, sights which many see often, but few are truly aware of. Another grew up an only child in a physically isolated region, as shown through woodlands so dense and populations so sparse that one begins to feel suffocated by the isolation. Yet another suffered a stroke, which paralyzed the left side of his body, explored through shots that get progressively colder and darker, mirroring his mental state.

While all contributors were incredibly vulnerable, sharing experiences few are brave enough to discuss, one interview proved especially meaningful. With the not-so-subtle encouragement of one of the program’s teachers, a complete stranger agreed to an interview, which lasted for nearly an hour. “It ended with me hugging him and he was crying,” Bogdan said, adding that the unexpected encounter left him with a profound memory he could never bring himself to forget.

Whether emotional, desperate, or just plain odd, Bogdan will always go to great lengths to create his vision. His sophomore year, the young filmmaker produced a Batman parody with children at a local park, who’s screams of panic are disturbingly realistic, likely because they were not aware they were being terrorized for a film.

Bogdan was also once “temporarily detained” for urban exploring, the practice of investigating abandoned or defunct urban structures typically for the purpose of filming the adventure. This experience seemingly scarred him so deeply, that he expressed concern numerous times throughout our conversation that I would have him arrested, despite the fact that he had not done or admitted to any arrest worthy actions. Regardless, his dedication to his passion cannot be denied, as evidenced by his strong relationships with his closest friends.

Since sixth grade, Bogdan has worked in tandem with his creative companion and Pig Latin enthusiast, Mathias White, Class of 2024. After joining Coronado’s video production class together their freshman year, Mathias explained that Bogdan’s influence inspired him to pursue film: “He’s the reason that I do what I like to do.” According to Mathias, “being creative with Bogdan is different,” and his thought process allows for innovative ideas to blossom in a welcoming environment.

YDA takes place annually over the summer, and applications for the 2024 session are open. More information about YDA can be found on their website at The program is completely free and provides students with a valuable introduction into the world of film. The director of YDA, Tom Shepard, can be reached by email at [email protected]. Potential applicants must hurry, as applications close April 1st.

As pretentious and uninviting as commercial art can be, programs like YDA give young artists the voice they deserve, creating opportunities for stories like Bogdan’s to be told. Innovators – via film or otherwise – drive culture and create change, and exposure to new ideas can help us all feel a little less isolated, even in our loneliest moments.

Art asks what it means to be human; it reminds us that there will never be a single moment in which we feel what has not been felt before. Art can (and should) inspire us to wander the innermost corners of our minds, unafraid of the darkness that may lie beneath. Life is fleeting, so while we reside here, we can create beauty where it feels impossible to find, if not for ourselves, for those who need to feel seen. Love for the lovers, dream for the dreamers, and don’t forget about me.

Kermit the Frog Singing “The Rainbow Connection” (Vanity Fair)
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About the Contributor
Phoenix Apedaile is a senior.  She is angry about many things and enjoys writing about said things that anger her.  She is currently attempting to read the novel Infinite Jest, though the attempt has proven rather fruitless.  After quoting Kenny Powers a couple of times she often spends time worrying (just because) or staring blankly at a wall.

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