Career Day at Columbia Explorers Academy in Chicago

School isn’t out for summer just yet!

While CPS students across Chicago are winding down the school year and counting down the days to summer break, a standout group of 7th graders from Columbia Explorers Academy, 4250 So. Kedzie Ave, had an opportunity to end the year with a twist.

This year’s annual Columbia Explorers Academy Career Day featured a group of diverse CPS volunteers to talk about what they became when they grew up! 321 Fast Draw was invited to participate in this event and had such a wonderful time connecting with the future screenwriters, illustrators, editors, and animators of tomorrow.
When speakers Diane and Jackie from 321 Fast Draw arrived, they were welcomed by two smiling students ready to escort them to their first meeting
room with snacks and other friendly faces, including administration and other career day volunteers.

The school signage and artwork in the hallway was uplifting and captivating at every turn, and showcased a variety of cultures and languages. Each mural was more breathtaking than the next! Everywhere we looked there was something that put a smile on our face.

It was off to the races as we lit up the smart-boards in two excited 7th grade classrooms. 321 Fast Draw Producer and 321 Learning Co-Founder Diane De Re captivated the students by explaining the industry of video production. Diane showcased several types of video styles to demonstrate the differences between whiteboard, 2D full color and stop motion video clips. “When we start with any script, we look for what the visual metaphor could be…” she explained.

Graphic illustrator and production supervisor Jackie Petraitis answered questions from the students about the various jobs and roles that need to be filled when a video is produced from start to finish. “The scriptwriter and illustrator work together to create a storyboard before the animation is ever edited together… and don’t forget about voice over!”

One of our favorite parts of the visit was sharing our Word of the Week program. As a literacy advocate, Diane De Re co-founded 321 Learning in 2012 with the motivation to bring fun back to learning through creative storytelling and captivating whiteboard animations. Since then, they have produced a bank of words that supplies teachers with up to one year of instructional material for tier 2 vocabulary words. Most recently, 321 Learning launched a Teachers Pay Teachers online store that features videos, activity guides and quizzes available for purchase.

But we didn’t stop there! To mix things up, the students were invited to get up out of their chairs to try a virtual reality game, The Cleaner, developed by AR/VR company 321 Next Reality. The game takes place in a bathroom at Sloan Park, the spring training home of the Chicago Cubs. The objective? Clean the dirtiest bathroom ever in three minutes! Within the field of virtual reality, jobs like modeling and coding are some of the emerging careers of tomorrow.

By the end of our visit, the 7th grader classes we visited could recall the definitions of two high level vocabulary words, (Facetious and Archnemesis) and asked a ton of great questions! Words couldn’t describe how fun it was to see the class engage with the video animations and profession of video production. We thank Columbia Explorers Academy for having us and wish the explorers luck in their future endeavors.

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