The BCPS Film Expo is an event organized to showcase creative works of film made by BCPS high school students.  Any high school student currently enrolled in BCPS may enter the festival regardless of whether or not they are part of a film or audio/video class.  The purpose of this event is to provide a creative, collaborative, and competitive platform that has previously not existed in BCPS for students to exhibit their work and to help aspiring young film makers gain valuable experience about the entire process. In addition to being a celebration of student achievement in the arts and inspiring young filmmakers to use their gifts and knowledge to impact a greater audience, the event will function as an advocacy tool in promoting and preserving cultural forms of expression.  This event supports a core value (and need) of 21st century learning by promoting creative and visually innovative artwork that is conceptually and technically relevant to career and professionally related industries. It will help Team BCPS to emerge as innovative leaders in casting an artistic vision that engages students in creative, practical applications of real-world opportunities.

Planning Committee

Jesse Dortzbach

Western Tech

Jesse Dortzbach has been teaching high school art in Baltimore County for 12 years were he currently works as the department chair of Visual Art, Music, Graphic Print and Communications, and Technology Education at Western School of Technology. He has a bachelors in community art from Wheaton College, a masters in art education from the University of Minnesota, and is pursuing a degree in architecture at Morgan State University. Having spent the first 18 years of his childhood in Kenya, he now calls the city of Baltimore home. His artistic endeavors range from painting and drawing, to sculpture, carpentry, and architecture.

Jason Adelung

Western Tech

Jason Adelung (Graphic/Print Communications teacher) is a newcomer to BCPS, but not to the world of graphic/print communications. Jason started working in the industry during high school and has worked in the private and government sectors. In 2011, he entered the world of education when he started working for New Visions Academy of Baltimore teaching graphic communications. Jason taught web design, video production, graphic arts, print design, game development, music production, etc. He continues his involvement in the industry as a freelancer and serves as the Education Chairman at the Litho Club of Baltimore. Jason has an A.A.S. degree in Interactive Design, B.S. in Corporate Communications, and a Master of Science in Education – Curriculum and Instruction.

Becky Meiller McCullagh

Eastern Technical High School

Becky Meiller McCullagh has been teaching in BCPS for 11 years. She currently teaches Interactive Media Production, Photography I and II, and Televideo at Eastern Tech High School. Her education in photography sparked her passion for film and animation. She has created several promotional films for Eastern Tech and for her family's business, South Baltimore Strength and Conditioning. And she loves going to the movies, especially for the popcorn.

Samuel Tillman

Hereford High School

Samuel Tillman has been teaching visual arts at Hereford High School for six years, with a primary focus on Digital Arts and Photography. He has received a BA in Computer Animation from UMBC ('05) and an MA in Art Education from Brooklyn College ('10). Beyond the classroom, he is the faculty sponsor of the Gay-Straight Alliance and co-sponsor of the National Art Honor Society.

Brandon Nicklas

Lansdowne High School Academy of Arts & Communication

Brandon has been a Video, Multimedia and Art teacher at Lansdowne High School for 11 years, where The Lansdowne Show is produced for BCPS-TV and YouTube. He lives in Baltimore with his wife and 2 girls. He has taught video at CCBC and runs his own independent media production company and an art gallery. You might see Brandon on BCPS-TV on Brain Gain, Kid Conversation or as Marco the Math Magician on Math Homework Helpers. Brandon is a graduate of Hofstra University with a BA in Communications and a MS in Education. 

Alexandra Garove

Western Tech

Alex Garove has been teaching art in Baltimore County for 3 years. She received her Bachelor of Science degrees in art education and photography at Towson University. She currently teaches digital art, fundamentals of art, yearbook, and the CALS program at Western School of Technology in Catonsville, and is a proud sponsor of the Western chapter of NAHS. Her personal work includes stop animation, photography, and illustration.

Rachel Valsing

Towson High

Rachel Valsing is currently a fine arts teacher at Towson High School and has been teaching in Baltimore County since graduating from the Maryland Institute, College of Art in 2007. Her interest is in supporting a strong arts community and as a National Art Honor Society sponsor, Rachel has facilitated school mural projects as well as student led art exhibits and performances.

Bethany Dentes

Lansdowne High School Academy of Arts & Communication

Bethany Dentes is a Maryland native and has been teaching in Baltimore County for 8 years. For the past two years the visual arts department chair as well as the Art and Mass Communication Magnet Academy Coordinator at Lansdowne High School. Prior to her current position she taught at Lansdowne Middle School for six years. She obtained both a BS and MA in Art Education from Towson University. Her main art forms are drawing and painting with a specialty in watercolor. She does not have personal experience with film, but loves watching movies! She became interested in film after attending Lansdowne High School’s annual “Moonwalk Film Festival” hosted by Brandon Nicklas featuring Lansdowne’s Tele-Video students.

Khalid Ali

Carver Center for Arts and Technology

Khalid Ali is a filmmaker, photographer, and educator based in Baltimore, Maryland. Khalid studied filmmaking at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California with the intention of pursuing a career in Hollywood. That all changed when he travelled to China for the first time. Upon graduation, Khalid began taking yearly trips to China to collaborate with brothers Omar and Tariq on more ambitious personal projects. These trips evolved into a series of short documentaries exploring Chinese Kung Fu, street food, and folk music. Their most recent collaboration, Away from The Grasslands, explores the music of the ethnic Mongolian band, Hanggai. Khalid has been instructor of digital film at the George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology since 2010.


The purpose of this event is to provide an inspirational platform for any currently enrolled BCPS high school student to showcase their creative work in film. As such it seeks to achieve the following goals:

  • Goal 1 Film/video is one of the most highly effective forms of mass communication and is arguably the largest form of cultural expression today. The ubiquity of film in our society has opened multiple new platforms for online learning and engagement through various video formats, but students must learn to analyze and interpret this information in order to reproduce culturally and personally significant forms of art and communication that emphasize the critical role of cultural competence, address multiple perspectives, and demonstrate high expectations to promote the achievement of all students.

  • Goal 2 In the process of creating a film entry for this event, students will engage in a range of cross-curricular learning activities ranging from technical mastery of industry standard software, tools and technology, pre and post production editing, creative writing, historical and cultural research, communications, advertising, journalism, and advocacy. A common platform such as this system-wide exposition of student achievement functions as an advocacy tool to engage, evaluate and modify magnet school and career and technology programs to ensure that every student has equitable access to high quality, effective programs.

  • Goal 3 By providing a professional and historically significant venue for students to exhibit their films and by bringing together a panel of jurors who are industry professionals, student will gain valuable experience about the process of conceiving, creating, and publishing a project while collaborating and networking with industry professionals and film-technology experts. This event is a new approach to remarket and increase utilization of the Partner Network as a means to connect schools to the business community; strengthen connections with specific constituent groups such as higher education and various communities through communication and collaborative initiatives.


The venue for the 2016 BCPS Film Expo will take place at the award winning Senator Theatre, a Baltimore City icon since 1939. Named in 2014 as one of the top 20 movie theaters in the world, its rich history has been reimagined after having undergone a massive restoration and expansion. The spectacular main auditorium features a 40 foot silver screen with a seating capacity of 736.

Front of the Senator Theatre

The Senator Theatre is an Art Deco landmark built by E. Eyring for Durkee Enterprises at an original cost of $250,000. It opened to the public Oct. 5, 1939. The first movie it featured was Stanley and Livingstone, starring Spencer Tracy and Nancy Kelly. The architect, John Jacob Zink, designed the Senator with a circular upper structure of glass blocks and limestone. Multicolored backlighting of the glass block was added to produce a dramatic effect at night.The lobby still features the original terrazzo floors, and art deco murals about the history of performing arts. A massive gold curtain still opens to dramatically reveal the screen before each performance. The theatre's interior is accented by a back lit sun-burst at the apex of the screen, and rainbow prisms in the recessed ceiling. The Senator Theatre's facade has been featured in many movies and commercials. It was featured prominently in the cult film Cecil B. Demented, which showcased historic theatres around Baltimore. The theatre can also be seen in the movies Twelve Monkeys, Diner, and Avalon. The Senator was also featured prominently in Mario's 2002 music video "Just a Friend."

Walk of Fame in front of the Senator Theatre

The sidewalk in front of the theatre features a 'walk of fame' which highlights local cinematic accomplishments. Many celebrities have attended movie premiers, fundraisers, and screenings at the Senator. They include: Matt Damon, Matthew McConaughey, John Travolta, Joaquin Phoenix, Salma Hayek, and Edward Norton. Directors John Waters and Barry Levinson premiere most of their films at the Senator. It often hosts East Coast premieres of films shot in and around Baltimore, including Ladder 49, Runaway Bride and The Accidental Tourist. The theatre also showcases films starring Baltimore area natives like Edward Norton and Jada Pinkett Smith.

Private booth of the Senator Theatre

The Senator Theatre boasts a massive, modern 40 ft curved screen, state of the art projection systems, and Dolby Digital sound with surround EX. Today, the Senator Theatre mainly showcases first run movies. It is able to screen films in 35mm or 70mm. Equipment includes a Bauer U2 projector with top of the line German lenses.