This year marked the first year Walled Lake Western High School offered 2-D and 3-D animation classes; and considering two Western students took first- and second-place in ACME Animation’s National Competition in Level 1, the school’s new effort seems to be off to a pretty good start.
There are three different competition levels, which are based on experience.
“Students had to design animation based on the topic of tolerance,” said Jack Wellman, who taught the class in his first year. “Both students did school settings. Adam Focht’s did one about the first day of school called ‘First Day.’ It was about being different coming into a class. He did a great job. It was beautiful. His drawings were amazing. I loved the background art scenes. It was a good story.”
Desmond Bouey took second-place in Level 1 for his animation entitled “Hallway Hero.”
Bouey’s description of the video is as follows: “A boy on his way to school saves a young boy from a racist and harmful situation.”
“He got so carried with it and was so detailed that some of it he had to leave in black and white,” Wellman said. “He did a great job, too. It’s very exciting to see both succeed nationally.”
For a first-year class, Wellman said he was grateful for the opportunity to get training in Los Angeles the previous summer from teachers who work with Pixar and Dreamworks at the ACME Animation orientation, and he said he is incredibly lucky to have some “great kids come through the Art Department.”
“Being my first year of teaching the class, I was a bit nervous going in but, I found that ACME’s curriculum was very helpful in getting my class up and running,” Wellman said. “I was also very blessed with extremely talented students who were motivated to succeed. I had never taught art, just drafting and engineering. I was very excited how well the students excelled with this. They had been wanting this class for a couple years and were just chomping at the bit to get started.”
Wellman also had quite a few students competing in drafting recently at the Michigan Industrial and Technology Education Society State Competition.
Western’s drafting students came home with seven first-place awards, eight second-place honors, and seven third-place finishes. Students who placed first included David Gornowicz, Umang Lathia, Juan Pablo Lontscharitsch, Nate Michanowicz, Calvin Tandjung, Jacob Schiavi, and Abbot Wang. A total of 34 drawings placed in the top 10.
“It was such a treat to see the students do so well after they worked so hard,” Wellman said. “We also had several freshmen and sophomores do well at the state meet, which was exciting.”
The students competed in different categories, submitting rendered drawings of businesses, commercial buildings, restaurants, and set plans for homes and subdivisions.
“Juan designed a beautiful high-rise hotel on the ocean, and he took first-place in the state for that,” Wellman said.
Meanwhile, Lathia was the division champion as the top mechanical drafting student for all ninth- and 10th-grade students in the state.