Following years of planning, approval and construction, a new building for Digital Photography and Art of Video use has been completed and added to Aragon’s existing science building. The new two-story structure replaces the Student Lunch Room and houses photography and video class space on the first floor and a multipurpose room on the second floor.
As other schools in the district include a more advanced environment for Digital Photography and Art of Video classes, the administration believed it was necessary to expand the space and facilities for students at Aragon.
Assistant Principal Ron Berggren explained, “We were the only school in the district that did not have a dedicated Art of Video and Digital Photography classroom with a studio and with a control room.”
Additionally, because Digital Photography and Art of Video are among the most enrolled-in classes at Aragon, an upgrade was needed to accommodate the larger class sizes.
“I have lots of equipment; I have lots of kids taking my classes — seven periods a day there are kids taking Photo or Video,” said Digital Photography and Art of Video teacher Nick Carrillo. “There are no breaks in this room, and so that’s why I think that they felt like, you know what, let’s upgrade this space.”
The new space, which is double the size of the previous classroom, will benefit both Carrillo and students. “The facilities and equipment [in the old room] were all very nice, but the room wasn’t very big so storing all the equipment was difficult and everything was crammed into a corner,” said junior Mina Negahban. “I personally learn better when I am in an organized and comfortable environment.”
With the expanded area, the video production room and photography class are located together in one large space, whereas previously, the two rooms were separate and inconveniently situated.
Carrillo said, “It’s much more convenient for supervision of students so I can watch multiple students at one time. All the interiors of the doors also have windows, so I can see them and they can see me.”
Additionally, the floor will feature a recording studio with sound proof windows and a control room.
“I’m also very excited about the new studio space which we’ll hopefully be able to expand our daily video announcements from one day to more than one day,” said Carrillo. “And [it will] also give students a more professional experience in video production as the set-up that is down there is very similar to that of the professional realm.”
As a whole, the construction cost was nearly $5.6 million with funding provided through a state grant. Because the construction project was so large, it required a longer approval process and a year-and-a-half long construction stage.
“It had to go through state approval, the [Division] of State Architect, all the usual planning permits, environmental checks [and] state requirements that are actually even more stringent for schools if students are going to occupy those spaces,” said Berggren. “Construction took way longer than we thought it would, but often that happens.”
Ultimately, the new facility seeks to provide a better environment for students to pursue their interests in photography and video.
“I feel like everyone is interested in photography to a certain extent now that social media is so huge and everyone wants to post a cool picture, but taking this class for two years has really helped me understand the technical side of photography like how to compose a photo and how to insert meaning into my photographs,” said Negahban. “I like photography because like any other art it’s a way to express yourself … You can learn a lot about the world through photography.”