June 4, 2017
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From left, Tyler, Sadie, Anthony, Ethan and Jenna pause to celebrate a season well done.

LA VERNE, Calif., June 4, 2017 — In today’s YouTube world, the most coveted title on Bonita High School campus may no longer be high school quarterback, prom queen, or class valedictorian, but rather, staff member on “The Pawse,” a fast-paced, comedic, student-run video concluding its second memorable season.


Comprising the staff for the 2016-17 season were hosts Sadie Recio and Anthony Martinez, field reporter Tyler Kirkes, film editor Ethan Johnson-May and camerawoman Jenna Michon.


Call them the Fab Five for heroically collaborating to produce a continuous writing, filming, and editing cycle of fresh, new six-minute video segments each week over the course of the school year while still meeting all of their other student obligations like attending class, studying, completing senior projects, holding jobs, applying to colleges, and trying to lead somewhat normal lives.


“I didn’t realize the commitment, but it was worth it,” said Kirkes, a highly visible senior on campus who has become sort of a local media sensation with the rest of his “Pawse” colleagues. “I didn’t do it for the popularity. I did it for the experience.”


While the Five gained plenty of experience in front of and behind the camera, they also exposed several sides of the Bonita experience not always revealed to helicopter parents. Most of all, they were able to show through their videos the high energy and irrepressible high school spirit pulsing through the campus each week.


While popular Hollywood’s network and cable shows are hard-pressed to produce a dozen episodes each year, “The Pawse’s” second season ambitiously produced 18, featuring everyone and everything from the D Street Dancers to Twittering, card-counting, calculus teachers, not to mention a quirky take-off on the popular “The Twilight Zone” television series, featuring Mr. Matt (“Think About It”) Mullen.

Guiding Light


“The Pawse” is the brainchild of Bonita teacher James “Paul” Eichen. In season One, which launched in the fall of 2015, the staff was feeling its way, dealing largely with technical and format issues. At first, “The Pawse” was conceived to be a music show and then a podcast before it finally found its north star.


“We were just spit-balling things back and forth,” said Eichen, an English teacher who also teaches video production and oversees “The Pawse.” “We were always experimenting.”


Once the format started taking shape, they had to deal with real logistical problems, like building a set, with a green screen, in an undersized classroom.


“There are days when I’m teaching class in here with 40 students while filming and editing are going on,” Eichen said.


Somehow, the crew and cast grew comfortable with their evolving roles and hectic schedules and got the shows out on time while still remaining friends.


“It often required weekend commitments and meeting up at Skype at 10 at night,” said Sadie, who was the show’s chief writer along with Anthony. “We’d come to school the next day and finish up and film it during our last period.”


Meanwhile, Jenna made sure she got all the shots she needed while Ethan worked his video magic transforming her raw footage with just the right amount of graphics, sound effects and comedic elements to make “The Pawse’ must-see TV.


Learning Curve


It wasn’t all nirvana for the cast. There were disagreements at times. Some segments didn’t always match the original concept. And some segments met the censor’s disapproval requiring retakes. But in the end, the addition and subtraction equaled out.


“We all worked well together,” Jenna said. “Ethan always made us look really good,” Tyler added.


The decision as to who would host the show was actually years in the making.


“I thought Anthony and I would work well together because we were in drama together for years,” said Sadie, who will be performing her new act this fall at Whittier College as a theater major. “I knew Anthony had a good presence on stage that would transfer to film.”


Although Sadie’s intuition was right about their on-air chemistry, Anthony, also a senior, said he will move to behind the camera as a producer of content when he enrolls at Mount SAC later in the year.


With each new show, the Fab Five produced, they learned more about what works in the YouTube era: shorter takes versus longer ones; fewer talking heads; more quick-hitting interviews; catching students, teachers and administrators in their funniest, most human moments.


“We didn’t want to be the news, we have a newspaper for that,” Anthony said about the show’s input and direction. “We were meant to be comical.”


Teacher James Eichen is the real genius behind “The Pawse.”

The Future


The cast and behind-the-scenes talent will change (Next season a new face, not Tyler’s, will be asking those annoying, impromptu  historical questions that the supposed smart people struggled to answer, like “Who was the first president to be born in Hawaii?” and no, it wasn’t Thomas Jefferson), but clearly, Mr. Eichen has a hit on his hands.


And his new crop of video mavens will be working on Mac Pros and the latest version of Final Cut Pro, dazzling their classmates with further technological wonders that today’s video pioneers can only dream about. By next year, the class could own not just one drone but a fleet of them.


“I plan to do this for many years to come,” said Eichen, finishing up his 13th year at Bonita.


On May 31, the Fab Five put episode 18, the final installment on Season 2, in the can, with the Simple Minds’ “Don’t You Forget About Me,” playing in the background. (View on the LaVerneOnline front page.)


It was a bittersweet sendoff as the cast and crew met for the last time and then scattered like yesterday’s news.


But they can feel good that they have left “The Pawse” with a bright future.


Stay tuned.




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