mac and cheese - photo courtesy of Oksana Mizina on shutterstock

An alumna from Cal State San Bernardino’s Palm Desert campus is producing holiday commercials for I Heart Mac and Cheese with Palm Springs High School students, college officials said Wednesday.

Donnie Gerrell, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree and teaching credential in 2018, is offering media training opportunities for students as a teacher and technology department lead at the high school.

“Prior to PSHS, I worked for a local nonprofit where I would integrate digital storytelling into core classes,” Gerrell said in a statement. “I also freelanced creating short films for local clients and flying a drone for several organizations. I knew my next step in my career was to enter the classroom.”

Gerrell’s class is currently in the post-production process of holiday commercials for the restaurant, according to college officials. The restaurant, community, students and their families all collaborated to produce a variety of holiday commercials.

About 190 PSHS students are juggling their other school assignments as they work to complete the ads, which will be featured on television through the four-year FILM Pathway program, college officials said.

Last year, students worked to create COVID-19 commercials with the school’s Health Academy for the Desert Healthcare District and Foundation in an effort to encourage the community to be safe and get vaccinated.

“The valley is home for me and PDC gave me the chance to stay close to home and push myself to grow academically,” Gerrell said. “My goal is to work with the community in some way that allows my students to gain stronger professional soft skills to prepare them for their future.”

Gerrell is also starting a pilot drone-racing program for the Palm Springs Unified School District.

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