Canyon High School Film Program Wins Top Honors at Film Festival

Orange, CA – May 26, 2020 – Canyon High School students, under the direction of Alex Graham, had 10 short films recognized at this year’s Directing Change Film Festival. The virtual ceremony can be viewed at

Canyon High School has participated in the contest since its inception and has won state and regional awards honors every single year. Rachael Pollak, a sophomore in Graham’s Video Production class, won first place in the San Diego/Orange/Imperial County region, and 2nd place in the entire state for her film about Mental Health Matters entitled “Baggage.” She will also receive $750 as an award. Her film can be viewed at

Additionally, Izabella Perkins and Kira Sugihara’s film “Origami” won 2nd place (and a $250 award) for the San Diego/Orange/Imperial County region and can be viewed at

Canyon also received honorable mentions for the following films and filmmakers, whose films can be screened at

  • “Reach Out” by Joey Sparacino, Ryan Robinson, and Zach Shenouda
  • “Shackles” by Zoe Lindberg, Colette Tagayun, Cameron Poole, Kourtney Pope, and Sean DeFrank
  • “Together” by Megan Beehler
  • “Losing Interest” by Kate Williams
  • “Hang On” by Nikki Yar, Ryan Robinson, and Bianca Rivera
  • “Hanging Out” by Regina Catahan
  • “This is Izabella” by Kira Sugihara and Izabella Perkins
  • “Acoustic” by Regina Catahan

“I couldn’t be prouder of the students in Mr. Graham’s Video Production class,” stated Canyon High School Principal Craig Abercrombie. “These students continually produce professional-quality works that not only highlight their abilities but also create awareness on important social issues.”

“We are so proud of the accomplishments of our Canyon students in the development of their films that are fully aligned with our Strategic Initiative: Genuine Wellness & Safety,” added Assistant Superintendent, Educational Services, Cathleen Corella. “Mr. Graham’s exceptional leadership promotes a culture that nurtures the academic and emotional health of all his students.”

Established in 2013,  the Directing Change Program & Film Contest is part of Each Mind Matters: California’s Mental Health Movement.  The program offers young people the opportunity to support awareness, education, and advocacy efforts about suicide prevention and mental health by creating 60-second Public Service Announcements (PSAs). We learn through actions and when we apply knowledge our minds begin to change.  Anyone can read about the signs of suicide or mental illness, but to create a 60-second film about them, be respectful, and think deeply about impacting the opinion of others requires a level of involvement that has a lasting impact.


The Orange Unified School District educates approximately 28,000 K-12 grade students in the Cities of Orange, Villa Park, Anaheim, Garden Grove, Santa Ana, and unincorporated county areas.  In partnership with our community, we provide a safe, equitable, and innovative culture of learning for each scholar to have a competitive EDGE as a leader.