Justin Gregorio’s poster design, left, was featured at the Canadian premiere of Star Wars: The Last Jedi along with Erick Vengaf (middle) and Jimmy Huynh (right). Photo illustration courtesy of Anthony Perrotta

Student work featured at Star Wars premiere

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  • December 31, 2017
It was only a quick 30 seconds of fame, but when those 30 seconds is in front of a VIP audience at a Star Wars premiere, it’s hard not to beam with pride.

Three students from Toronto’s Chaminade College School were invited to the Canadian premiere of Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi Dec. 13 to showcase movie posters they designed for Disney Canada.

“It was really interesting because it was up on the screen, but it wasn’t up there for very long. If you blink, you missed it,” said Grade 12 student Justin Gregorio.

Still, Justin, along with Grade 12 student Erik Vanegaf and Grade 10 student Jimmy Huynh, are grateful for the recognition of what started out as an in-class assignment for their Communications Technology class.

“To share the experience with students... It’s most definitely a true pleasure,” said teacher Anthony Perrotta. “It’s really just also a testament to the relevance of a connected classroom.”

Perrotta is a firm believer of creating an interactive and experiential curriculum for his students. By infusing popular culture with social justice themes and Catholic teaching, he can train students to be conscientious consumers of media.

“Often when we think about Catholic education, we think about it as through the religion classroom,” he said. “But urgently, for Catholic education to be rich and viable, it needs to be lived in all courses.”

As part of the curriculum, Perrotta invites academic experts and film industry professionals to talk to students via Skype about the underlying themes of the movies they study.

In preparation for their poster design assignment, the classes watched Episode IV: A New Hope, the first film in the Star Wars franchise, released in 1977.

English professor Anne Lancashire from the University of Toronto talked with students about how the film provided a hopeful escape for a society that had been impacted by events like the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy and the Vietnam War.

star wars poster“People today are going to cinemas instead of going to the bookstore and buying books,” Justin adds. “And for me, Mr. Perrotta’s class showed me the dimensionality of film. There’s always more depth to what you’re seeing.”

The Star Wars film franchise, Perrotta said, follows a hero’s journey and The Force poses an interesting reflection on a person’s inner self and the presence of God within.

“When we talked about A New Hope, we definitely talked about the Catholic religion and how it can help guide us,” said Erick. “When Luke was flying to destroy the Death Star, a voice in his head was trying to guide him to success. I guess I would equate that to how God leads the way but we also have to take that initiative to follow through.”

Perrotta said that The Force plays a very important role in Luke Skywalker’s journey in the latest film.

“Luke is very much this embodiment of what hope can be and now with The Last Jedi, we have Luke who is older, Luke who has been burdened by the Jedi religion and he finally calls it Jedi religion,” he said.

“He’s discerning whether this religion promotes violence, whether this religion has served him, so we find a Luke that is lost. And that’s something that I think speaks to our contemporary place.”

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