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* Shoreline students' film to show at SIFF

Crowd Lasers.jpg

Karen Ducey photo

A time-lapse photo shows the audience watching a laser show at the Seattle Laser Dome, Feb. 6, 2011. The show and projectionist, John "Ivan" Borcherding, was the subject of a documentary titled "When the Lights Go Out," which has been accepted to show at the 2012 Seattle International Film Festival.
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The Seattle International Film Festival includes the work of filmmakers from around the world.


In 2012, it will also include the work from a little closer to home, Shoreline Community College.


On the set



  • Karen Ducey
  • Jarrett Nelson
  • Holly Santos
  • Rintaro Takahashi
  • Sean McDougall
  • Colby Larson


  • Amanda Harryman


  • Ruth Gregory
“When the Lights Go Out,” is a six-minute documentary video that was conceived, shot and edited over the course of just five days during winter quarter by the students in instructor Ruth Gregory’s Film/Video 287 class.


“We offer the class during winter because it is designed to coincide with the International Documentary Challenge as the final project of the class,” Gregory said.


The “Doc Challenge” is a timed filmmaking competition where participants have five days to make a short non-fiction film of between four and seven minutes. Filmmakers must choose between two assigned documentary genres and are assigned a specific theme that dictates the content and direction of the films. The Challenge is sponsored by, a St. Louis, Mo.-based independent radio station and Web site.


“I’ve done the challenge before and I know that when you have to do something in a short time, you really grow by leaps and bounds,” Gregory said. “Our hopes were that it would be that way for the students and it totally worked.”


Gregory said the class is a combination of film study and filmmaking.


“The idea for the class is that half is about the history of film and documentaries and the other half is actual filmmaking,” she said. “The first year, we had film history as a prerequisite, but then we realized we’re teaching that as part of the class so now it is just open to anyone.”


Gregory said the time constraints makes for a grueling five days.


“The challenge starts Thursday morning and you must have the project postmarked by Monday midnight,” she said, adding that finding a postal drop that late added some pressure this year. “I was sure the airport had midnight drop, but at 3 p.m. Monday, and with no DVD yet, we found out they stopped doing that. We found a drop in Ballard that closed at 8 p.m. We got there by 7:30.”


While the film did make the deadline, it didn’t make the finals of the challenge.


It did, however, snag perhaps an even bigger prize: A spot in the Seattle International Film Festival.


“We just burned another DVD and the very next morning, I ran it down to SIFF,” Gregory said. “I heard from a friend there that they had over 2,500 entries for shorts and we got in. This is big. This is something every one of the students can put on their resume.”


Getting the film shot was no easy task.


Early Thursday morning, over a breakfast of doughnuts and Gregory’s homemade quiche, the class got their assignment and began discussions. “We knew the general areas, just not which one we’d get, so the students had already brainstormed ideas,” Gregory said. “When we got art or sport and movement, we knew we’d go with Karen’s idea.”


That idea, from student Karen Ducey, was a story about the projectionist at the Seattle Center laser dome, a man named John “Ivan” Borcherding.


With time already tight for the challenge, the students found out later that day that Borcherding would be available for only that night, Thursday. “So, we get ready, go down and shoot until about 3 a.m.,” Gregory said. “I was totally pumpkin’d.”


Ducey, a laid-off photojournalist, is in Shoreline’s Visual Communications Technology program.  She signed up for the documentary class because it resonated with her storytelling experiences with newspapers. “I was a staff photographer at the (Seattle Post-Intelligencer),” said Ducey, who also worked for the Indianapolis Star and whose work appeared in the New York Times and National Geographic. “I saw the documentary class and said ‘I absolutely must take that.’”


The connection to Borcherding came through her photo work. “I had a freelance job shooting a CEO and wanted some dramatic lighting,” she said. As it turned out, the CEO nixed the light-show idea, but Ducey came away with a new friend in Borcherding, one that paid off for this class project.


“I was the director, but I use that term very loosely,” Ducey said. “I had the contact with John, set it up and we set up the computers at my house, but this was a very collaborative effort.”


Ducey said her prior professional experience with deadlines wasn’t much of an advantage for the documentary challenge. “I am used to it, but I’m also used to being very confident about my craft,” she said. “This was different. We’re students here to learn. One thing I learned was that when you see all those names on a film, it really takes all those people working together.”


Another thing Ducey learned came from standing behind Amanda Harryman, a program alum who helped edit the film. “Just watching the way she worked and being able to see what she was doing was invaluable,” Ducey said.


Ducey said she’s aiming at a two-year degree in VCT, but that dwindling funding support may impact that goal. A Worker Retraining assistance recipient, Ducey said her unemployment benefits will run out after summer quarter, so she’ll have to scale back the number of classes she can take. “I want the degree,” she said. “This program is so great, the instructors are so great. They are very good and very practical about what it takes to get a job. I want the degree to feel I’m ready for the job market.”


While Ducey was organizing, doing much of the camera work was Sean McDougall, a 23-year-old holder of a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Montana. The project was shot primarily with a Canon digital SLR camera with video capabilities, although a more traditional video camera was also used.


“I came here to get a certificate in digital film, but then in the fall, I learned they were going to have an AA degree so I decided to stay and get the degree. I think I’m the first one to get it,” McDougall said. “I’m all graduated. This project was the cherry on top.”


 McDougall was behind the camera for some of the first night’s work, then again the next night for interviews with people in line for the show as well as additional footage of the Seattle Center. McDougall said he’s always been interested in film and Shoreline’s program offered the opportunity to try it out. “I’d always talked about,” he said.


Going into the challenge, McDougall said he wasn’t sure what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised. “I really was unfazed by the challenge,” he said. “Yes, it was exhausting, but everything I’ve learned here prepared me. I was surprised how calm the experience was.”


McDougall his next step will be to make his own film. “I’m hoping to make a doc’ about war veterans,” he said. “Ruth gave me some advice: Get the idea down on paper, then, go shoot some and make a short, then go show it around (to raise money to shoot the rest).”


McDougall said the Shoreline experience has been good, but now comes the next step:  “The biggest challenge in life is what to do after school.”


SCC/Jim Hills

*Modular Math Program supports student success

The Urban Dictionary defines ‘math anxiety’ as a feeling of slight fear or nervousness when put in front of a math or word problem. 


For many, math is something they would rather not have to deal with; in fact, many people make the conscious decision to just stay away from it.  For those wanting to enroll in college courses, however, that is not an option.


“Students have to pass Math 080 or 085 with a 2.0 or better before they are eligible to enroll in Math 99,” algebra instructor Nancy Goodisman says, “which is a requirement for an associate degree and a prerequisite for most science courses.” 


Unfortunately, many students find it impossible to pass the class with a 2.0 grade point.  Joe Duggan, Assistant Director, Institutional Effectiveness, says that an average of 32 percent of Shoreline students over the last three years have failed the Math 080 course. 


Additionally, Goodisman says that many students enroll in one of the elementary algebra courses so they can then move on to required Math 99, but can’t get through the coursework in 10 weeks. 


All good reasons for the new modular math program that was launched Winter Quarter. 

Science Dean Susan Hoyne learned about a self-instructed, computer-based and modular-based Individualized Elementary Algebra program while attending a conference.  “It’s a perfect solution for our students who were not succeeding in completing the Math 080 class,” Hoyne said, and asked math Instructor Nancy Goodisman to develop the course. 


Goodisman, who has taught math at Shoreline for many years, designed Shoreline’s elementary algebra course in an open style so that students can take more than one quarter to complete it.  “For many, it’s really a timing issue,” she said.  The modular class removes the added stress of having to complete it in only 10 weeks.  Students can register for 1 to 5 credits with an option to add more credits and if the course is completed within 7 weeks, students can enroll in Intermediate Algebra.


The modular Math 085 course was designed into five modules, each with video lectures, online homework, oral quizzes and assessment tests.  Students are required to watch the video lectures and complete online problem assignments before attempting the exams to support their learning, and to go to the lab twice a week so that Goodisman can check on their progress and provide one-on-one help if needed. In addition, there are 15 hours of optional open lab time available per week when students can get one-on-one help or work independently.  The oral quizzes and modular tests are taken during the open lab time.


Additionally, Goodisman says that students can retake quizzes and tests until they pass which in itself reduces some of the anxiety.  Students understand that if they fail an exam they need only to complete a review assignment before retaking the exam.  “They can do this as many times as necessary,” Goodisman says.


Goodisman points out that the program is designed for not only the student who needs more time but for the student who wants to get it done quickly.  “If a student wants to earn the five credits in just one quarter,” Goodisman says, “they can do that by completing a module and the exams every two weeks.”  She encourages her students to do so.  “I encourage them to do it as quickly as possible,” Goodisman says, so they can go on to the next level, “but I understand if they are not in a position to accomplish that and I support their challenges whatever they may be.”


Although the class might appear to some to be an easier route than the traditional classroom class, it is not.  Goodisman says the purpose or goal of the program is to really help students understand algebra. Problem solving is incorporated into the program.  “They have to show me that they understand the process and how they reached the conclusion,” she says.


The modular course was launched at Shoreline Community College Winter Quarter of 2011.  More than 40 students enrolled.   


Richard Ly wanted to finish his Elementary Algebra class as quickly as possible, and he did, completing it in just three weeks.  Ly needed to complete the 085 course before enrolling in Math 99, a requirement for entry into the Toyota program. 


Ly said that he took something one of his grade school teachers told him – to plan a schedule of how much to complete each day in the timeframe selected. 


This was the first time for Ly to take a modular class – and his first math class at Shoreline Community College.  He said that he wants other students to know about the new class.  “It’s really good because if you are struggling in one area you can take your time, and then move quickly through the other modules.”


Ly enjoyed the class so much that he asked Goodisman if he could help out in the classroom.  His volunteer work involves working with students and making sure they comprehend the math.  “They keep telling me I’m their good luck charm,” he said.  “That feels really good.”


The modular program is already proving to be successful. At the end of the quarter, seven students completed all five credits of the 085 course, and Goodisman says that many will complete them this quarter.  “Some of these students have already enrolled to continue in the Math 095,” she says.


The intermediate algebra modular class was added this spring. Limited lab space allowed for only 30 students to enroll, but Goodisman says it is obvious that students need this course as there is a waiting list. “This is really where the most need is,” she says, referring to the intermediate class.  She says there is also a waiting list for the elementary algebra course.


Goodisman says that what she really likes about the new program is that it allows for the individuality of the student.  “The students aren’t pushed ahead until they understand the more basic material,” she says, explaining that developmental math builds on itself and that if students miss any parts, it is really difficult for them to progress.  “For certain students it is making math accessible, and the students themselves appreciate that.”


Volunteer Opportunity for math students

Goodisman encourages students to help out in the labs, saying that volunteering reinforces math skills, supports development of good communication skills and can be helpful on a resume or when applying to a university or college.  Volunteers are committed to two hours a week (minimum).  Morning or early afternoon.  Flexible hours.  Contact Goodsiman at