Threat Shuts Down La Jolla High School Film Festival

The threat was made to a staff member by a student, officials say

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    NEWSLETTERS

    After a La Jolla High School student allegedly made threats against a teacher, the school cancelled an upcoming student film festival leaving both students and parents angry. Vanessa Herrera reports. (Published Friday, May 30, 2014)

     A San Diego high school’s film festival was shut down Friday by a threat to one of its staff members by one of its students, according to school officials.

    Students at La Jolla High School have been spending many after-school hours creating films they planned to showcase next Thursday night at the annual festival.

    But Friday morning, teachers were instructed to read a statement from Principal Chuck Podhorsky to their students, announcing that the film festival was canceled due to “safety concerns.”

    It said a staff member at the school had received threats.

    “My first concern is always for the safety of our staff and students at La Jolla High and decisions will always be made with this focus,” said Podhorsky’s statement.

    Karen Ventimiglia, the mother of an LJHS student, said she’s upset because the event was closed down without much explanation.

    "This is one of the very few activities that the student body at La Jolla High School take and rally around,” said Ventimiglia, “and I know just in the few hours since this announcement was made, it's really upsetting to again, not just the filmmakers, but many of the student body who were looking forward to next Thursday's film festival."

    She told NBC 7 Friday afternoon that her daughter was frustrated because the project she worked on all year now won’t be shown.

    Another mother, Sharon Franks, asked why many students should be punished when just one student is believed to be in the wrong.

    “My first thoughts were simply that if this was, as my understanding, an opportunity for the students who produced films to showcase their work, their hard work and their talents, what a shame it will be if such an event were canceled and they didn't have the opportunity," said Franks.

    In a statement released to NBC 7, the principal said the La Jolla High administration is working with police to investigate and resolve the issue.

    They will not release any more information about when the threat was made. 

    On Friday night, the festival's organizer told NBC 7 the show will go on. 

    Now called "The La Jolla Film Festival," the student productions will be shown on June 6 at the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art at 6 p.m.