Japanese crew taping gifted student documentary at DaVinci Academy

 
 
  • Photographer Hideto Fujikawa and sound technician Yuki Habu record students working with computers at DaVinci Academy in Elgin Wednesday as part of a documentary about gifted students.

    Photographer Hideto Fujikawa and sound technician Yuki Habu record students working with computers at DaVinci Academy in Elgin Wednesday as part of a documentary about gifted students. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Sixth-grader Thomas Perry of Elgin is interviewed by a Japanese film crew, including Takahiko Katayama.

    Sixth-grader Thomas Perry of Elgin is interviewed by a Japanese film crew, including Takahiko Katayama. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Sixth-grader Alex Jaffe of St. Charles chats with a Japanese film crew shooting DaVinci Academy's gifted program for a documentary.

    Sixth-grader Alex Jaffe of St. Charles chats with a Japanese film crew shooting DaVinci Academy's gifted program for a documentary. Rick West | Staff Photographer

Published: 9/10/2009 12:00 AM

Though students were encouraged to act normal and attend to business as usual, Wednesday wasn't your average school day at DaVinci Academy in Elgin.

A Japanese production company spent hours scurrying through the halls of the west-side gifted student academy armed with cameras, sound equipment and microphones.

The footage will be part of a documentary about gifted education in the United States, to be aired in October on Fuji Television Network - one of the country's major channels.

Along with information on DaVinci's teaching methods, it will feature interviews with professors from Northwestern University's gifted education program and profile a Chicago family with two gifted children.

"The U.S. is far more advanced in terms of gifted education," said Takahiko Katayama, of Zazou Productions inc.

With 130 students, DaVinci caters specifically to gifted grade schoolers by offering an accelerated curriculum and supporting individual learning styles, according to the school's Web site. Tuition runs around $15,000.

School spokesman Jeff Oldham said the school was approached after its Internet site was noticed by Zazou Productions.

On Wednesday, crews interviewed students who take part in the school's chess program before and after school, as well as seventh-graders debating the value of President Obama's back-to-school address.

In Karyl Sheilds' art class, fifth-graders sketched pictures of one of their shoes, working the drawing into an assignment emphasizing the differences between fine and applied art.

At lunchtime, students were quizzed about their aspirations, favorite subjects and path to enrollment at the school.

"It's pretty crazy to think Japanese kids are going to be learning about us," sixth-grader Erik Rabin, of St. Charles said.