the hoofprint

Walnut High School | 400 Pierre Rd. Walnut, Calif. 91789

the hoofprint

Walnut High School | 400 Pierre Rd. Walnut, Calif. 91789

the hoofprint

Walnut High School | 400 Pierre Rd. Walnut, Calif. 91789

Students challenge age-old assumptions

Advanced Video Production and Graphic Design are working on rebranding WVUSD’s Ron Hockwalt Academies.
Chloe Tan
Senior Mary Wang and junior Joshua Husain discuss their design for the new pamphlets for the Ron Hockwalt Academies. “I was kind of frustrated because during this time, we had a lot of ideas that were clashing with each other,” Husain said.

With the eagle as its mascot, Ron Hockwalt Academies (RHA) is all about honesty, strength and courage. The students of Karen Alorro’s Advanced Video Production and Graphic Design classes, however, want to show the world another signature RHA attribute: hope.

Working closely with RHA administrators, these students are creating a series of projects — a documentary, social media reels, pamphlets and flyers — that aim to correct the misconceptions associated with the school. 

Growing up in Walnut, Alorro’s impression of RHA was a school where the “bad kids” went. But as she learned more about RHA for this project, she quickly changed her mind — a shift in opinions reflected among her students. With their work, they hope to change the minds of other people as well. 

“I learned to not judge a book by its cover. I know it’s cliche, but community perception and pressure is very present,” Graphic Design student junior Samantha Ung said. “It’s like seeing a different view of something I’ve always been told is bad or negative.” 

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RHA’s small class sizes — a student-to-teacher ratio of 18:1 — and individualized approach to learning already sets it apart from other WVUSD high schools. Their spaces designated for meditation and gardens built by the students further sets it apart. In a pamphlet that will help inform prospective students and parents about RHA, Ung wanted to reflect these values in the graphic design itself. 

It’s like seeing a different view of something I’ve always been told is bad.

— Samantha Ung

“[RHA] has a very welcoming yet dynamic and unique kind of feel, so we used a lot of rounded shapes. Not in a uniform way, but in a way that would flow, because we felt sharp edges would be too clean cut for something that’s meant to represent anyone and individualism,” she said.

Students met with RHA administration before beginning this project, presenting a detailed plan for their approval. They also had field trips to RHA’s campus, filming and interviewing students. This is both classes’ first real-world project, in which their content will be used beyond the context of education. 

“They knew they have the reputation of being a school for ‘bad’ kids, so they talked to us about wanting to change their image to something more understanding and heartwarming. They wanted to show that this school isn’t just for kids that have behavioral issues,” account manager and assistant art director senior Taylor Lockwood said.

Indeed, as stated on the RHA website, there are many reasons why a student would attend Ron Hockwalt in addition to disciplinary concerns, such as attendance issues. Lockwood also cited examples of students who want to graduate early, or students who transferred schools and are making up some credits they lost. 

Some of [my students] don’t know how talented they are, which boggles my mind.

— Karen Alorro

Alorro’s advanced students have been working on the RHA project since late September, when Kevin Wendland, WVUSD’s Educational Technology Specialist, approached her with the idea. In addition to obtaining internship hours, students’ work will also be graded as their final for this semester. 

“The work environment is pretty chill and we’re like friends instead of co-workers,” director senior Tzu Chiao Hung said. “I was kind of intimidated because it’s my first time being able to direct, but I [got] to learn how to be a leader.” 

Alorro’s goal for her students is to teach them skills that’ll prepare them for the professional world. Everything, from encouraging collaboration to computer stations being organized in cubicles, was set up with this in mind. As the supervisor, she was gratified to see her students work so well, doing professional work while still in high school. 

“Some of my advanced kids have been with me for four years. Seeing them from the [start] to the end, it’s amazing because they’re solid, they’ve matured. They’re just like, ‘Okay, let’s go,’” Alorro said.

In a way, Alorro’s classes offer her students the same opportunity for alternative learning that Ron Hockwalt does. She wants to make sure they know they have a safe space to fail, to develop skills for the real world.

“My students are all extremely talented. Some of them don’t know how talented they are, which boggles my mind,” Alorro said. “Everyone always gives me accolades for my class, but all I do is give them the opportunity to go through trial and error and figure out their talent. That’s my whole goal.”

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Cathy Li, Print editor-in-chief
Hi everyone, my name is Cathy Li and I’m in the 12th grade, serving as your Print editor-in-chief. Though I blame Pubs for my irrationally strong hatred of Oxford commas and at least 23% of my stress-induced breakouts, I wouldn’t trade journalism for the world. I’m glad to have found an avenue in which my natural nosiness is celebrated.
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