Digitopia set to launch on the big screen

KINGSTON — A small collective of high school teachers and their students are bringing digital arts to the masses in North Kitsap.

On June 3, about 40 students from Kingston and North Kitsap High Schools and Spectrum Community School will showcase their videos, photography, music and three-dimensional art at the district’s inaugural Digitopia. Some students have spent as much as six months on their projects, which range from movie trailers to music videos to claymation to short films.

“The students do some pretty amazing and creative and interesting work,” said Bob Geballe, a teacher at Spectrum and one of the event’s chief organizers.

Geballe teamed up with North Kitsap teacher Jay Montgomery, Kingston’s Richard Pullen, NKSD advisory chair Matthew St Carrell and Kingston soccer coach Craig Smith to devise the spectacle. The crew was searching for a way to bring student video work into the public eye, and over the course of the school year, the event evolved into a full-fledged digital arts exposition.

In previous years, North Kitsap High School has hosted a video festival for its own students, but this year’s Digitopia is the first district-wide event , and the first to include the broader public.

“The students are pumped. They’re excited about this,” Geballe said. “It takes it into a different realm for them to have their work shown in public rather than just in a school environment.”

In addition to coaching soccer, Smith owns the new Kingston Firehouse Theater, where the video portion of the show will take place.

“It just seemed like a natural to talk to Craig and see if he would give us a home,” Geballe said. “It’s been very rewarding to get the kind of support from the community that we’ve gotten.”

Smith, a lifelong North End resident, likens Kingston to the villages in John Steinbeck’s “Travels With Charley,” in which Steinbeck observes what he calls the homogenization of small town America. Smith said he sees the festival as an opportunity for Kingston to maintain some of its individuality and strengthen community ties.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Smith said of Digitopia. “I think we should hang on to good relationships with local businesses and with community events.”

The program will open at 5:30 p.m. at the Oak Table Cafe, with photography and art on display, and a performance by Pullen’s world music band.

At 7 p.m., the show will move next door, to the theater, for the film festival. Most of the videos are short works, Geballe said, with the longest piece coming in at around eight minutes. Admission to Digitopia is free, but theater seating is limited.

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