Carlton’s answer to Degrassi

Tyler Clarke
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Carlton Comprehensive Public High School students Erik Cachene, Yanni Asefa and Kayla Rowe, from left, are videotaped by teachers Ian Hecht and David Zulkoskey for the latest episode of Fairhaven -- Carlton’s dramatic web series. 

Taking inspiration from the high-school based dramatic television series Degrassi, Carlton Comprehensive Public High School students are offering Fairhaven.


The first two episodes have already appeared on the school’s website and the third episode has been filmed and is almost ready to post online.

“It’s a golden opportunity for these students to experiment and do film,” Drama teacher David Zulkoskey said.

“We’ve done a lot of anti-bullying and community anti-violence type projects, so this is a natural link for us.”

A joint effort of Zulkoskey and communications and media teacher Ian Hecht, the series was born out of a request for public service-style segments.

“I thought it would be better and more subtle to do a dramatized presentation of some issues,” Hecht said.

“We don’t want to preach to them, because if it’s too preachy our audience will tune out,” Zulkoskey added.

“I’ve been really pleased with the seriousness with which the actors have taken it,” he said. ”It would be really easy with a series about teenagers to go off the goofy end.”

Each of the series’ characters have unique problems, Yanni Asefa said -- a Grade 10 student who plays the character Erin Niles on Fairhaven.

“She’s new to the school, and being that it’s Grade 10 and everyone knows each other … no one really wants to interact with her and she’s the loner,” Asefa said of her character. “Her main challenge is that she’s trying to look for acceptance but she doesn’t know where to find it.”

Fellow Grade 10 student Kayla Rowe places Maya Halls on Fairhaven -- a character whose racism Rowe finds difficult to relate to.

We’ve done a lot of anti-bullying and community anti-violence type projects, so this is a natural link for us. David Zulkoskey

“It was very difficult -- and still is -- because that isn’t who I am,” Rowe said. “It’s really tough to figure out who she is.”

“We try and put high school problems -- like bullying, racism, problems with alcohol and partying -- and we try and focus on those and bring out some of the effects that happen,” Grade 10 student and actor Erik Cachene said. “In one word, Degrassi -- there you go.”

While all of the show’s characters are boasting unique problems and challenges, true to life, not all of them will find resolve, Hecht said, adding that it wouldn’t feel genuine if everything ended up perfect.

The show is written by Hecht, who films and produces the series with Zulkoskey.

Students do as much editing and production as possible, he said, noting that the students who act in the series do so on an extra-curricular basis, during lunch time and after school.

The best has yet to come, he said, noting that the already-filmed episode, which is set to appear online soon, will be the best yet.

This upcoming episode is the first to have “heavy emphasis on the choices that these characters do make,” Hecht said, adding, “The end of the next episode is going to be a real shock, I think, for a lot of people.”

The series is available online on as well as


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