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Site Visit: Rancho Cotate High School
Rohnert Park, CA
June 28, 1999

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I visited Trudy Marquardt at Rancho Cotate High School in Rohnert Park. This summer Trudy is assisting a group of teachers who are planning web-based curriculum, which provided a nice backdrop for discussing her plans for next year. Her focus is on 3-D Studio Max and animation, in particular helping students move from creating objects to creating stories. Trudy is collaborating with a screenwriter to assist students with concepts of story and storyboarding. This collaboration benefits the screenwriter as well--she is developing a course on writing for animation.

At Rancho Cotate, Trudy has helped to develop a team that writes curriculum, attends conferences, and writes grant proposals together. The team includes an English teacher, a fine arts teacher, and a librarian--all of whom share a common vision for designing curriculum that works for their students. Trudy says that the team came together as a group who discussed ideas at first, and then started working together more deeply. As we have seen elsewhere, this is the kind of team that emerges around common interests and continues to find ways to work effectively with and for kids. The team shares a general goal to cover all aspects of the industry so that each student can find a niche.

Trudy's "five-year plan" includes developing an annual animation film festival at a local theatre. This event will help to support a "virtual design studio" as well as build the reputation of the program at Rancho Cotati. She's finishing a book/tutorial on 3-D Studio Max, which we hope to have available at the mmnet seminar in September. One final thought; Trudy's message to students: "There's always room at the top."

Ralph Manak
BaySCAN Coordinator