Academy PM students Discover the World of Edutainment

Mt. Sentinel students prepare for year end Film Festival Event

Film festival screenings, passion project hour and field trips to Sony Pictures Imageworks does not describe an average school day for most, but for a select group of Kootenay Lake School District students, these things are all in a day’s work.

Academy PM (Performance & Media) is a specialized high school program offered  at Mt. Sentinel Secondary School that has been creating opportunities for students to work in project-based cross curricular learning environments for the last two years. With the goal of preparing graduates of the program for a career in the world of media production and design, Academy PM is the first of its kind in the province.

Mt. Sentinel is building on its reputation as a hub for drama enthusiasts, finding  innovative ways to deliver the curriculum and becoming a choice program for students interested in the performing arts, digital media and film industries.

Having just returned from a week-long excursion with 29 academy students to Vancouver to visit multiple post-secondary and industry facilities, teacher Danny Leeming describes the significance of the trip for many of his students. “Many of our kids discovered what they want to do when they finish high school on this trip,” says Leeming “But more importantly for some, they now realize what they want to do for the rest of their lives!”

The students toured BCIT, Capilano, Vancouver Film School, Emily Carr and Langara College campuses and networked with multiple industry partners and employees at CBC, Microsoft, Sony Image Works, Industrial Light and Magic and a commercial photography studio.  Academy student Tala MacDonald described the trip as, “a chance to really connect with the other academy students and get to know each other in a different context.”

This close-knit group of students are now preparing for their year end showcase – a Student Film Festival at the Civic Theatre in Nelson, June 17 & 19, 7 pm.  “Lost History” is the theme and audiences can expect to be entertained by the student produced documentary short films and live music. Tickets are $10 and available online at In addition, a sampling of student passion projects will be on display.  

At the beginning of the semester, students select a passion project which they have an allocated amount of time each week to work on. Projects are interest based and multi-disciplinary. They vary from a hand-illustrated colouring book available for sale, to a video game that has been conceptualized, designed, coded and now marketed by a team of 5 academy students.

Oshi Spring, 1st year academy student recognizes that the format of Academy PM really suits his learning style. “I feel like Academy has taught me that I can go out into the world and actually make a difference!” exclaims Spring.

The Academy is now accepting expressions of interest for Grade 10-12 students that are looking for a unique and inspiring high school program.  The focus for next year will be Creative & Narrative Film, with instructors Danny Leeming, Jacy Schindel and Martina Avis team teaching in the second semester. Email for more information or to request an application. Deadline for application for the 2019-2020 program is June 20th.

Film Festival Poster