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Creative Incubator Offering $5,000 Grants to Fresno Area Storytellers



The Big Tell awards $5,000 grants to local filmmakers. (CMAC image)
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Check out my other School Zone columns at Nancy Price’s School Zone Facebook page.

Budding filmmakers, here’s your big chance: The Community Media Access Collaborative is now accepting applications for the sixth annual The Big Tell film competition.

CMAC will award 10 grants of $5,000 to professional, amateur, and student filmmakers to tell the stories of the Central Valley in five-minute short documentaries, casting a spotlight on the interesting and innovative people and places in the Central Valley. The subjects can be in six counties: Fresno, Tulare, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, and Merced.

Emmy-nominated filmmaker Sascha Rice will mentor the award winners with one-on-one guidance on developing story lines, technical assistance, and guidance on how to get films into production. Grant winners will receive a complimentary one-year CMAC membership with access to training and tools, including professional video production gear, studios, editing suites, and meeting rooms.

Also in School Zone: 

  • Scholar-athletes get a shout-out on milk cartons.
  • Fresno Unified students will have lots to read this summer.
  • Fresno State professors get Fulbright awards for study.
  • You don’t have to be Zonker to get this college degree.

Applications are due on Tuesday, July 12, 2022 by midnight. The application, more information, and previous documentaries, can be found at

The winning films will debut at the Big Tell Showcase in late November. The date, time, and location will be announced later.

The Big Tell is presented by the James B. McClatchy Foundations and the Central Valley Community Foundation.

Who’s on That Milk Carton?

It used to be that children’s photos showed up on milk cartons because they were missing. But for one California dairy, milk cartons have been a handy way of spreading the word about California scholar athletes.

Crystal Creamery’s milk cartons are featuring the names of 38 graduating seniors who received scholarships from the Central Section for their academic and athletic accomplishments.

The Central Section honorees included: Sofia Biagio, Granite Hills High, Porterville; Ethan Cole, Clovis West; Jadon Cordova, Tulare Union; Ryan Cronk, Sierra Pacific High, Hanford; Chase Dias, Kingsburg High; Nolan Fernandez, Orosi High; Morgan Gates, Reedley High; Diego Gonzalez, Sunnyside High; Madeline Lew, Tulare Union; Keanu Kuma, Washington Union; Dylan McDonald, Lemoore High; Kylie Nunes, Riverdale High; Emily Penberthy, Fresno Christian; Remi Perez, El Diamante High, Visalia; Jack Sampson, San Joaquin Memorial; Ashley Schletewitz, Sanger High; Tessa Silva, Kerman High; Luke Vickers, Kings Christian, Lemoore; Kira Wilson, Kingsburg High; and Bria Zwaschka, Clovis East.

Crystal Creamery, which sponsors the Central Section, also is celebrating scholar athletes in the Sac-Joaquin and North Coast sections.

The commemorative cartons were first produced in 2012, and since then more than 600 winning Section teams and scholar athletes have been recognized. To qualify, students must have participated in at least one varsity sport, displayed good citizenship in school and volunteer activities and carried a minimum of a 3.5 grade-point average.

“While we are always proud to honor the Section Championship teams throughout the year, we are really pleased to call attention to these outstanding scholarship winners,” Brian Carden, vice president of sales and marketing for Crystal Creamery, said in a news release. “We produce these cartons because we want our customers to learn about and be proud of the young men and women who are succeeding in the classroom, on campus and in the community throughout their time in high school.”

The special cartons are being sold across California, from Bakersfield to the Oregon border and the coast to the Nevada border.

Crystal Creamery milk cartons are celebrating scholar athletes whose names are listed on milk cartons. (Photo provided by Fahlgren Mortine communications company)

Hey Kids, Looking for Something to Do This Summer? Read a Book!

Fresno Unified students who are attending the district’s Summer Academy will be able to continue working on their literacy after the summer school ends in early July. The district is partnering with Scholastic to provide more than 100,000 books to students in preschool through fifth grade.

The five-pack of books will be appropriate to their grade level and also culturally diverse, and will be available in English and Spanish.

Officials from FUSD and Scholastic will talk about the book giveaway at 11:30 a.m. Friday at Del Mar Elementary School. Special guests will include Clifford the Big Red Dog.

“We know that one of the keys to success in school for our students is reading. The Grab and Go Student Packs not only provide fun, free books for our students, but ways for the entire family to enjoy reading together. One of our goals as a district is to provide more ways for our families to engage in their students’ education,” Superintendent Bob Nelson said in a news release.

Fresno State Profs Nab Fulbright Awards

Fulbright scholarships and grants are not easy things to come by, so it was pretty noteworthy that two Fresno State professors were named Fulbright Scholars for the 2022-23 academic year.

  • Communication and performance professor Dr. Devendra Sharma will return to his home country of India to research and document the swang-nautanki, a folk opera tradition in Northern India, and its traditional akhārās, the swang-nautanki community performance groups. Although popular over centuries, they are disappearing from popular culture in India.
  • Professor of music theory and composition Dr. Benjamin Boone will go to Ireland to learn about the musical pedagogy and work with other musicians to create and record new music. Boone will be based at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at the University of Limerick.

Speaking of limericks, School Zone remembers hearing this one from SZ’s mama (with credit to author Dixon Lanier Merritt):

A wonderful bird is the Pelican.
His beak can hold more than his belly can.
He can hold in his beak
Enough food for a week!
But I’ll be darned if I know how the hellican? 

Majoring in Cannabis

This is the sort of college degree that The Big Lebowski might have majored in — if he wasn’t already too stoned to take college classes, that is.

Oaksterdam University of Oakland is partnering with Golden Gate University so Oaksterdam students can transfer their certification courses and earn a bachelor’s degree through Golden Gate.

Oaksterdam students may transfer up to 18 credits: the business of cannabis (6 credits), horticulture (6 credits), and extraction and manufacturing (6 credits).

According to an Oaksterdam news release, “The partnership allows Oaksterdam to offer students a pathway to an accredited degree, and GGU to provide a pathway to careers in cannabis, America’s fastest-growing industry.”

Far out, dude.

Nancy Price is a multimedia journalist for GV Wire. A longtime reporter and editor who has worked for newspapers in California, Florida, Alaska, Illinois and Kansas, Nancy joined GV Wire in July 2019. She previously worked as an assistant metro editor for 13 years at The Fresno Bee. Nancy earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Her hobbies include singing with the Fresno Master Chorale and volunteering with Fresno Filmworks. You can reach Nancy at 559-492-4087 or Send an Email