The Student News Site of Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School


The Student News Site of Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School



Woohoo! It’s the last day of school! And we saved the best for last! 

Here we have an exclusive, never-before-seen interview with everyone’s favorite kooky media guy: Mr. Zac Cageao! Mr. Cageao is not just a teacher: he’s a filmmaker, a director, a storyteller, and a member of the very first graduating class at Lincoln Park! (The Class of 2007.)

We sat down with Mr. Cageao for a no-holds-barred interview that covers his past, present, and future–and just about everything in-between!

Mr. Cageao: Testing, testing, testing. Look at those wave forms, they’re beautiful! (He takes my phone.)

The SIREN: My questions are on my phone…

Mr. Cageao: Oh, hahahaha! I’ll be loud, how about that?

The SIREN: I’m not surprised.

Mr. Cageao: Mhm, I’ll do my best.

The SIREN: Okay.

The SIREN: I have three stupid questions because I like to warm up and not ruin the good questions.

Mr. Cageao: Yeah, give me the warm up, give me the warm up!

The SIREN: But try to keep the third one short…

Mr. Cageao: You got it.

The SIREN: One, how’s it going? 

Mr. Cageao (sarcastically): Great.

The SIREN: Do you like the weather today?

Mr. Cageao: I do! I like it cold. Cold and sunny is my favorite.

The SIREN: Cold’s nice. And this one I don’t need a lot of detail, but do you ever wonder how printers work?

Mr. Cageao: All the time. I’m assuming it’s elves that live inside the printer.

The SIREN: That would make sense.

Mr. Cageao: Mhm.

The SIREN: Okay, so now for the real questions.

The SIREN: So I know you went to Lincoln Park, but where did you go before that?

Mr. Cageao: I’m from the Beaver school district, but I was actually homeschooled before Lincoln Park. 

The SIREN: Oh?

Mr. Cageao: I was homeschooled all the way through high school until my senior year, then I went to Lincoln Park. So I never had a real, quote unquote, highschool experience. 

The SIREN: What department were you in here? Media? 

Mr. Cageao: I was in media but I took a lot of classes in the theatre department as well. 

The SIREN: How long have you taught here?

Mr. Cageao: Oh boy, I have worked here for ten years. Um, the majority of that time I have taught. 

The SIREN: From your limited high school experience, did you like it? 

Mr. Cageao: Ha, we will need to dissect this question. So high school as a whole as a concept or high school here at Lincoln Park? Which one are we gonna tackle first?

The SIREN: Um, generally first.

Mr. Cageao: Generally. Um, I was not a fan of high school as a time of my life. I felt it was incredibly awkward and I felt like all of the children were mean. And so I generally dealt with a lot of mean-spirited youths as I grew up.

But when I came to Lincoln Park I really found my people, and that helped me through the process. My senior year was extraordinary. It’s among one of the best years of my life in my memory. But in high school leading up to that fact, it was pretty much challenges and drudgery, I would say. 

The SIREN: What was your favorite subject?

Mr. Cageao: What was my favorite subject? Art, of course! But if I had to pick a normal subject it would be English. 

The SIREN: Is it weird to work with some of your former teachers? 

Mr. Cageao: Ahuh, I am in a very interesting position because I work with my former teachers and my former students, and I can’t tell you which one is weirder. There are some people, Mr. LeRoy, specifically, who I had as a teacher and now have as a coworker. And I think it is a great experience to develop that relationship from teacher to peer. The same is true with Mrs. Pontis, who was my teacher and is now my peer and coworker. But there are people who work here such as Mr. Hulick who just started this year who was my student. And that is a unique experience in a whole different way. 

The SIREN: What class did Mr. LeRoy teach that you had? 

Cageao: To clarify, the first year was a blast. Like, it was really unique how the first year worked. Everyone, no matter what major they were, had the opportunity to be taught by every arts teacher, through something called LMA. Which stands for Literature and Materials of the Arts. In which two arts teachers would rotate through a group of every student and teach them about their specific art. So it’s almost like the middle school rotation, but at a full high school level. In the morning, that’s what we did. So I had Mr LeRoy for the LMA lesson. As well, I believe I took a debate elective with him. Debate or philosophy, I can’t exactly fully remember. (Editor’s note: It was class called “Argument and Controversy.”)

The SIREN: What year was this? Like how long had Lincoln Park been-

Cageao: Oh yes. This was in 2007. So this was the first year of Lincoln Park. So 2006-2007, I was here as a senior. I’m aware you were all BORN around that time or after that, I am feeling my age. Hahahaha. 

The SIREN: Um, could you tell us a bit about your favorite teacher? 

Cageao: Oh my goodness. 

The SIREN: And do they still work here? 

Cageao: Oh my goodness. (sighs) This is hard, guys! This is hard. Um, I’m going to do two. I’m going to do two teachers. (So, of course, there will be three). Um, Mr LeRoy may be one of the greatest teachers I’ve ever had in my entire life. 

The SIREN: Oh yeah. 

Mr. Cageao: He may very well be. And that includes college! Mr Leeway (that’s what he said…) may be one of the most talented teachers I’ve ever come across in my entire life. UM THERE YOU GO, LEROY, SOME GLOWING PRAISE FOR YOUR… MAGAZINE! 

The SIREN: He’s probably going to make me cut it out. 

Mr. Cageao: YEAH, he probably will. BUT IF YOU’RE HEARING THIS RIGHT NOW, I AM TELLING THE TRUTH. UNDER PAIN OF DEATH. Um, also I had Mrs Pontis. And her stories are as great back then as they are today, and she was an incredibly helpful person in my life. 

And I had an ACTING teacher named Gwyneth Welling, now known as Gwyneth Serra, she was married. Who taught here for a very long time. She was my first real acting teacher, and she was incredibly kind, a maternal figure, and I really enjoyed having her as a teacher in my youth.  

The SIREN: Did you always like art? 

Mr. Cageao: Yes. I’ve um always liked it from THE DAY I WAS BORN but in particularly my way into film-making came through theater. I was a Boy Scout. I’m an Eagle Scout, actually. And, uh, campfire performance was a major part of that. So I kind of got into it through campfire performance. And then, I was also a good church boy as a child, so the church productions, church Christmas productions, I was always in. I got into that, and as soon as the school popped up to focus on the arts, I was right there. 

The SIREN: Do you prefer the more digital side to the physical side of art? 

Mr. Cageao: Oh my goodness this is a FANTASTIC question. GOOD JOB WITH THE QUESTIONS

The SIREN: Thank you…

Mr. Cageao: Um, both have their merits. Um, digital art is great, because it allows for mistakes that um…(finger taps on table) tangible, we’ll just call it analog art um…Digital art is great because it allows for mistakes you could not get away with in analog art, it allows for more experimentation. It allows for more…it allows you to be a little bit playful with your work in a way that you can’t with analog. Where you can just try things and see if they work. For instance, digital cinema, you’re not losing money if you throw away 5 or 6 takes. However, in analog, if it’s on film, that is a significant amount of money every time you do a take. However, the tactile nature of analog films, specifically analog photographic film, um I’m normally good with words. Uh, it allows for… It is appealing to me. Because of the fact that it’s tangible and right in front of you and you get one shot at it. Almost like cooking. If you exposed too long, you’re going to burn it. If you don’t expose enough it’s going to be underdone. So there’s a gratification to the tangible analog arts. Which you don’t necessarily get in digital. Where it’s all just ones and zeros and fugazi and fairy dust. Ya know? 

The SIREN: Sure!

What was your favorite time period for physical and digital art? 

Mr. Cageao: What movements do I like? I’m a big fan of the abstract expressionism of the ‘50s. Um, a big fan of…honestly, art kind of loses me at Warhol, when it started getting too postmodern, I tend to enjoy it less and less. The pure expression of the abstract expressionist movement, with artists like [Jackson] Pollock and [Elaine] de Kooning and [Mark] Rothko really is appealing to me, and also, I love the Die Brücke school of German expressionism and artists like Ernst Ludvig Kergner as well. It’s dark, it’s scary, it’s twisted, and seeing that perspective I thoroughly enjoy. And just expressionism as an art movement as a whole. I find it to be incredibly enjoyable. CINEMA WISE, definitely the American new wave of the late ‘60s into the ‘70s, after the abolishment of the Hayes code. 

The SIREN: I’m going to have fun spelling things. 

Mr. Cageao: Yeah, you’re gonna have to look these ones up. 

The SIREN: What is your degree in?

Mr. Cageao: My degree is a fine arts degree, so it is in film and television, but I did take fine arts classes such as drawing and painting and design all the way through college, as well as a copious amount of art history classes, as well as writing theory classes 

The SIREN: If you didn’t teach media, what would you teach? 

Mr. Cageao: That is a fantastic question. Mr. LeRoy willing, it would be a writing and publishing course, of course. I could see myself teaching in writing and publishing, as screenwriting is my main focus within the media department. 

The SIREN: Did you always want to be a teacher? (Jazz music plays obnoxiously in the background)

Mr. Cageao: A long pregnant pause…I’ve always enjoyed teaching. I’m the oldest of five children, so I’ve always had sort of a mentory position in my family. As well as through Boy Scouts, I was a merit badge counselor, so I would spend all of my summers working at summer camp teaching the lifeguarding, small boat sailing, and swim lessons. Things of that nature. So it seems that though I never set out actively wanting to be a teacher, it seems to have followed me all of my life. 

The SIREN: If not, what would you want to do?

Mr. Cageao: If not, what would I want to do…Well, I honestly do what I want to do. I want to direct. And I’ve always wanted to do that. I want to tell stories. That is my number one goal. I think the point of all of the arts is to tell stories, to entertain and to move. Whether that be emotionally or logically. So you either are trying to create new ideas and concepts in people that aren’t familiar with them or just to make them feel something for a fleeting hour and a half or two hours. As long as I’m able to move people with something that I’ve been a part of or make them think in a way that they maybe wouldn’t have before they walked in those doors I would consider that a success, that’s what I’ve always wanted to do. I am blessed to be able to do that on a daily basis. 

The SIREN: What were you like in high school?

Mr. Cageao: Hahahahahahahahaha. I’m very similar to how I was in high school. I would say that what I am today is just a more cynical, more reserved version of what I was in high school. I was far more optimistic and more energetic and loud in high school. However, I am, I still preserve my inner child on a day to day basis. 

The SIREN: Would you consider yourself a teacher’s pet?

Mr. Cageao: Hahahahaha. Was a teacher’s pet? Okay, that is a nuanced question. I was challenging to many teachers here. Due to my inability to sit still ever I’m sure I was difficult to teachers. However, my grades were always very good. So I was a very good student but I was challenging to have in a classroom. I would say I was a teacher’s…hm. I’m going to give you a good sound bite here, I just have to think about how I want to say it. I’d say I was whatever a pleasant burden is. I think that’s what I was. I wouldn’t say I was a teacher’s cross to bear, however I believe I was… I need a perfect word and I just don’t have it. Whatever causes them to just shake their head and mutter under their breath while also smiling at the same time. I feel like that’s what I was in high school. They’re just like “ah.” I was…”a teacher’s fun story to tell after class.” I think that’s what I always was. 

The SIREN: Would you consider yourself a class clown or not so much? 

Mr. Cageao: Absolutely a class clown, yes, I was absolutely the class clown. 

The SIREN: Do you have a notably funny or just a Lincoln Park story? 

Mr. Cageao: there’s so many… uh, that first year was WILD, GUYS, IT WAS WILD! Um, a couple of really great things I got through Lincoln Park. I was able to be the lead in the play the first year. I was able to be the stage manager in Our Town, that was the first play that they did. That was awesome. Especially getting to spend time with the theater students that I wouldn’t necessarily spend time with. 

So I’m the faculty director of Ensemble Immersion, which is, here we go, it is a student run all original avant garde performance project, that’s what Ensemble Immersion is. Ensemble Immersion didn’t exist when I first came here to Lincoln Park. It was started by Dr Todd Goodman, I believe the following year. You might want to fact check that. But the following year Dr Todd Goodman started it. Um but when I came here, through the LMA program that we previously talked about we were able to create our own stage performance in basically like this very short intensive. And we had to adapt a myth, so we chose to adapt the myth of Orpheus as a rock opera. And THIS WAS IN 2006 SO THIS WAS WELL BEFORE Hades Town came out. But we were basically given all this freedom and we were able to work with all of the majors to create some original art on stage and that was a fantastic experience for me especially because we performed in on the main stage theater and we had all the tech abilities with us, we were able to raise, we were able to lower the pit to show the descension into Hades. There was all these really cool things we were able to do. And every day I strive to create those kinds of opportunities for students through things like Ensemble Immersion which I am now the faculty director of. So, I would say that LMA performance of Orpheus the Rock Opera was the one of the most important things to ever happen to me in my life I would say. And that was given to me here at Lincoln Park as a senior. First-year senior. 

The SIREN: Would you still go here nowadays? 

Mr. Cageao: Nowadays…yes…I would still go here nowadays. School climate today is very different than it was when I was a senior here, but I would still choose to go here because there are very few places like this school available to anyone. And having been able to have three hours of my day revolve around something I love is really fulfilling and I would definitely choose to still go here as a student and I believe my children are likely to go here as well. 

The SIREN: Would you go for media as well still? 

Mr. Cageao: Oh yeah. I love theater, don’t get me wrong, but the ability to tell a story visually over time utilizing a greater amount of control through subjective camera technique as a storyteller is one of the best ways to tell a story. 

The SIREN: Do you have any advice for high school students? 

Mr. Cageao: Take advantage of everything that you have, your teachers want to help you, they stay after, they volunteer their time to run a coffee shop for you in the morning, they have to get here super early, um and stay very late so take advantage of these opportunities. Don’t just watch the clock till 3:20 so that you can run out of here as fast as possible. But take the time to talk to your teachers and take advantage of the opportunities that they afford you. 

The SIREN: Anything else you’d like to share? Rants, strange ideas, etc? 

Mr. Cageao: Rants, strange ideas, ha. Um, Lincoln Park is about creating art through collaboration. You have all of these like minded people around you and all of these like minded teachers that are here to help you, the only thing standing in your way of achieving a fantastic high school experience is you. So, again, I’m going to circle back, take advantage of the opportunities that are there. Audition for things, get your art in art shows. Play together in bands, even if you’re not a music student, like join a band with some other music students in it, it might be fun. Um, take advantage of this opportunity because you’re not going to be surrounded by like minded artists again in your life. It’s just not going to happen. Even like when you go to college, maybe, but when you get out finding that community of artists is hard. So take advantage of the community of artists you have around you now. Because that uh MAY NEVER COME AGAIN. 

The SIREN: Um, any staff you want me to do next? [REDACTED] is obviously the end goal, but I’m working up to it. 

Mr. Cageao: Hmmm. Interesting staff…Let’s see. [Ms.]Mucy is very interesting because she’s a first year teacher here so um, could consider that. Very very interesting. [Mr.] Jones has interesting stories. Mr. Jones in the music department. If you’re doing a series of alumn that work here, Mr. Park is also an alumn that works here, also in the music department. Um Ms Schevlin is great, she’s a great teacher as well. She’s also an artist in residence like myself. Um, you’ll get interesting things from Mr, Raines, that’s for sure. So Mr. Raines is a good choice. Let’s see. Who has interesting stories? There you go. So Park, Schevlin, Reins, Mr Jones. I would say that is a nice smattering. Oh, Mr. York! Joe York has fantastic stories. Yea, yea, that’s what I would suggest. 

The SIREN: Thanks!

Mr. Cageao: Oh, other than Mr. LeRoy, of course, who probably won’t allow it to happen to him. 

The SIREN: At least not for a hot minute. 

Mr. Cageao: Yeaah… 

The SIREN: at least not until i have a collection of them 

Mr. Cageao: Do you work at the Hot Dog Shoppe? (He asked while I was decked out in my uniform)

The SIREN: Yes. 

Mr. Cageao: Sweet! Which one? 

The SIREN: Chippewa. 

Mr. Cageao: Chippewaaaaa. I go to the Beaver one. It’s closer for me. I love a good Hot Dog Shoppe. What do you do? The dogs, the fries, the shakes, all of the above? 

The SIREN: I can technically do everything, I mostly work register and counter. 

Mr. Cageao: It’s because you can talk to humans. 

The SIREN: Sort of. 

Mr. Cageao: Within reason

The SIREN: Uh huh. 

Mr. Cageao: Alright, is that it? 

The SIREN: Yep!
Mr. Cageao: Great! 

The SIREN: Thank you!

Mr. Cageao: Thank you for your time! Did you stop recording? Now you’re stopping recording.

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About the Contributor
Anya Martin is a sophomore and a writing and publishing major. She writes the column “News for Dummies” for The SIREN. She likes the news, politics, and cats.

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