Pursuing Filmmaking with the Help of My Charter School

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Dante Downey, South Tech Academy Class of 2019

This blog post is part of our celebration of charter school graduates across the country and their achievements. Join us in celebrating our #CharterGrads!

I was born in Bethesda Hospital East in Boynton Beach, Florida. I have lived two minutes away from that hospital my entire life and I currently work five minutes away from that hospital. Though I am ready to expand my reach, the perk of living where I grew up is having been fortunate enough to go to a charter school as fantastic as SouthTech Academy.

SouthTech allowed me to focus on the career that I want to have after graduation and encouraged me to set goals for my secondary education. I plan on moving away from my hometown to Gainesville, where I will attend Santa Fe College and complete my associate degree before moving on to a university that focuses on my soon-to-be career—filmmaking.

Because SouthTech is a charter school, they have the flexibility to specialize in certain fields within our school through academies. I am in the Digifilm Academy led by Jon Palardis. Mr. Palardis is very encouraging in my pursuit of filmmaking and pushes me to do my best every day.

Graduation represents moving on to the next stage in my life and becoming my own person. Moving away from the limited radius of my first 18 years of life is very exciting and I am looking forward to the opportunities that will come with moving on. My charter school has already allowed me to find my identity and discover what I want to do in life, thanks to the focus on filmmaking.

My favorite memory from my charter school would have to be creating a video that was good enough to win the Best High School Film award at the Boynton Beach Short Film Festival last year, a credit to the opportunity and tools provided at my school. This gave me the satisfaction of feeling like I might make it somewhere in this industry.

I hope to someday win an Oscar for my film directing abilities. When that day comes, I will walk up on that stage to accept my Academy Award and gladly thank my academy teacher, Mr. Palardis. I will also thank SouthTech Academy for giving me the skills and opportunities to achieve my dreams.


Dante Downey is a 2019 graduate of SouthTech Academy. In the fall he will begin classes at Santa Fe College.


[Click to Tweet] As a Class of 2019 graduate, Dante Downey will continue to pursue the passion for filmmaking he cultivated at @SouthTechFL and expand his horizons #CharterGrads