News Column

Brighter futures

May 10, 2014

By Tenley Woodman, Boston Herald

May 11--Lights, camera -- internship!

Boston high school students are getting hands-on work experience in lighting design with help from local nonprofit Brighter Boston.

"There is a gap in the education field right now at the national level," said Dan Jentzen, executive director of Brighter Boston. "This is creating work opportunities for them. There is no reason not to bring them to a professional site and give them responsibilities. Give them hard, marketable skills so they can get paid, and it gives them a network. We are plugging them into the work place in a very efficient way."

Jentzen, 29, a lighting professional with Canton-based High Output Inc., launched the program last year. The Chestnut Hill resident, who also teaches lighting design at Boston Arts Academy, guides students through the ins and outs of lighting, from the science to the hands-on experience of lighting a big event.

Since last spring, Brighter Boston has provided 12 internship opportunities to inner-city students. Participants have worked on lighting teams for WGBH productions such as "A St. Patrick's Day Celtic Sojourn With Brian O'Donovan" at Harvard University'sSanders Theatre and Boston Summer Arts Weekend in Copley Square, Speakeasy Stage Company's "The Roar" Gala at the Mandarin Oriental and a performance by the Vijay Iyer Trio for the Celebrity Series of Boston. The work experience is part of an eight-week workshop.

Last week, Jentzen worked with teens at Artists for Humanity in South Boston to prepare them for their first professional gig -- working the lights for the Company One Gala at AFH's EpiCenter facility.

"I never thought it was something you could do," said AFH member and Boston Latin Academy sophomore Audrey Frederick, 16, of Mattapan.

Fellow AFH participant Tre'Saun Hobson, 18, a Charlestown High School senior, was daunted by the workshop's technical aspects -- Jentzen's workshop delves into physics and neuroscience -- but she said the results are worth it.

"It's fun to see things you do for a big event come to life," Hobson said.

Jeyrie Rodriguez, 18, a junior concentrating in theater at BAA, completed an internship with Brighter Boston but has come back to work as a teaching assistant with the AFH group.

"It was a really interesting experience being a high school kid working alongside professionals," said Rodriguez, of working on "Celtic Sojourn."

Jentzen began working in lighting when he was in junior high school.

"I was just like any other kid. It was something I could succeed at, and see my friends, and do something that mattered," he said.

His passion for theater and interest in science led him to study drama at Carnegie Mellon University, and later earn a degree in education from Harvard University. Jentzen hopes opportunities with Brighter Boston can help students reach their own career goals.

"There are not enough chances for kids to do something that is their responsibility and make a difference," said Jentzen.

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Source: Boston Herald (MA)

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