Debbie Croft: Multimedia students partner with Mariposa businesses

A unique relationship has developed between Mariposa businesses and the Multimedia Communications and Design class of Mariposa County High School.

Mariposa Digital Media is the brainchild of class instructor Walt Hebern and his students. Under Hebern’s supervision, the young people produce state-of-the-art promotional videos for area businesses and organizations.

Robert (Bob) Borchard and his wife Linda Halvorson-Borchard own Bett’s Gold Coin Sports Tavern in downtown Mariposa. When Bob looked into enriching their business website, he had a hard time finding help in the area – until a friend reminded him about the high school’s multimedia class. Bob contacted a former student and Hebern about possibly creating a video ad for the restaurant.

Hebern is a certified Leading Edge Online Teacher. Since he and Borchard spoke about two years ago, four videos have been produced, and work is underway to complete more than twice that amount this year.

When production first began, all his students were beginners. This year, Hebern has 13 beginning and four advanced students.

The videos may be viewed at Hebern’s YouTube website,

“This project has provided real-world experience to my students,” Hebern stated. “It’s great we can offer a program they can use.”

Some of Hebern’s former students continued their education at colleges in Los Angeles and the Bay Area, and are now involved with marketing or making movies.

When Terry Selk, executive director of the Yosemite/Mariposa County Tourism Bureau, saw the videos, he was impressed. YMCTB donated a new camera to the class. He then asked Hebern and the students to produce a promotional destination video about the historic town of Coulterville.

In his second year of multimedia, River Seal, a senior, is one of the advanced students. As the writer of his production team, he spends class time researching the history of the Gold Rush town of Coulterville. He developed an outline noting points of interest and annual events in the community. He also spoke with a curator at the Northern Mariposa County History Center, and hopes to gain access to photos and memorabilia to help with this project.

The students are planning a field trip to Coulterville soon to do filming on location.

“The Hotel Jeffery ledgers contain President Teddy Roosevelt’s signatures from his trips to Yosemite,” Seal said.

Hebern combined the beginning and advanced classes, providing almost two hours of valuable hands-on time each afternoon.

The 17 students divide into production teams, fulfilling a range of roles in the process of filmmaking. The bulk of their post-production work is done in the school’s computer lab.

Jorden Crutchfield, a senior and beginning student, is a musician and works with multimedia in his spare time. He was involved in filming a behind-the-scenes video showing how the filming was done for the original Gold Coin video project.

After spending three days filming, he said, “Post-production is the hardest and most time-consuming part of the process.”

During the first semester the beginning students learn the technical aspects of digital filmmaking. They’re also given time to practice their newly-acquired skills. Then they prepare for actual filming.

The promotional videos are embedded on company websites and social media outlets.

Among other things, Hebern teaches film composition and the rule of thirds, animation (including business logos), photo shop, video editing, and production of video games.

As a semester final exam, some of the students produced and entered a video into an area competition.

Cruthchfield said, “There’s a lot of talent in this room.”

Alonna Barton is a senior in the beginning class. She thought it would be a fun way to earn easy credits.

“Now it’s serious business, learning about actual filmmaking,” she said.

In addition, these students are earning college credits through Fresno City College.

The class is one of MCHS’s career technical education classes funded by Fresno County’s Regional Occupational Program.

In a rural school district, electives and extra-curricular activities are usually the first to go when budget cuts are made. Mariposa businesses and educators are finding ways to work around the obstacles, while providing a valuable resource to the community.

Debbie Croft writes about life in the foothill communities. She can be reached at