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R-JENERATION: Coronado broadcast student chasing cinematography dream

Sleepy eyes become wide awake.

Bored students accustomed to tuning everything out now strain to hear every word.

The taps of pencils and whispers from the girls in the corner of the classroom stop as a broadcast feature made by 18-year-old Jackson Tait appears on television.

Smiles appear in every classroom and laughter echos in every hallway.

Every day, the students at Coronado High School turn on the classroom TV to watch the morning announcements on Channel 6 News. Tait and other broadcast students anchor school announcements, work with lights, cameras and audio to make sure each live broadcast runs smoothly, and create and edit features or news parodies.

On average, Jackson spends four to eight hours daily scripting, filming or editing a broadcast assignment.

“It’s something that I love to do,” Tait said. “I especially like making comedy features. I like to put a smile on someone’s face, so it’s really fun to make them. Channel Six News has given me a chance to incorporate all of my ideas and bring them to life.”

Tait’s dream of being a cinematographer first was realized when he watched and fell in love with “Ocean’s Eleven” at age 14.

“The directors really did a good job of capturing the thrill and action,” Tait said. “I love how all the pieces of the film came together and made perfect sense by the end. It was really inspiring.”

He was further inspired when he met broadcast journalism adviser Michael Clark. Since then, he has been on the broadcast journalism staff for three years.

“Mr. Clark has made a huge impact on my life,” Tait said. “Not only has he taught me about broadcast, but he also taught me a lot of life lessons. He helped me realize that I should never run away from my problems, but that I should run straight into them and never give up.”

Clark calls Jackson one of the best students he has taught.

“Usually I have the broadcast students make about 18 features in a year,” Clark said. “But Jackson can have 18 features done before winter break. They’re amazing, too. He may be a goofball, but when it comes to broadcast and film, he’s borderline genius.”

Tait’s longest running work was last year’s “Word of the Week,” in which he shows an example of how to use a weekly word. For instance, to demonstrate how to use the word “hyphy,” an adjective meaning “entertaining, amped up, exciting,” Tait and fellow broadcast students “hyphy” danced to “YMCA” inside local supermarkets as onlookers stared or laughed in disbelief.

Among other works, two of Tait’s comedic features have been shown at this year’s Las Vegas Film Festival. His orientation video about Coronado, titled “What’s Cool at Coronado?” has been showcased by Coronado’s Principal Lee Koelliker at school board meetings.

When Tait is not busy with broadcast duties, he is busy serving as vice president of the student council.

“My goal as vice president is to get the whole student body involved,” Tait said “I, as well as all of the student council members, plan assemblies, games and spirit weeks to get everybody pumped with school pride.”

Cresen Swenson, Coronado’s student council adviser, said Tait has brought great enthusiasm, leadership and an exciting new flair to Coronado.

“Jackson has always led his peers by setting a great example of what a truly committed Coronado Cougar here on campus should act like,” Swenson said. “He has great skills when it comes to delegating, organizing and event planning. And through his outgoing, humorous, caring and spirited personality, he has made a really great connection with the student body. He has taken time to care about others, listen to them, and really get to know them. He’s a true leader.”

Tait plans to put his leadership skills to use on his upcoming mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Afterward, he hopes to pursue a future in cinematography and directing.

“Jackson definitely has the creativity and the passion,” Clark said. “He is so driven and his potential is unbelievable. I have no doubt that he’ll be a great director in the near future. The sky is the limit for Jackson Tait.”

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