SIOUX CITY | Even though he aspires to someday become a blockbuster movie director like Michael Bay, Tristen O'Connor seems content editing video on a computer in a small studio.
Luckily, the 18-year-old has plenty of time to make his mark in Hollywood.
For the past four years, Tristen has been involved with EHTV, a class in which East High School students produce stories that are then shared on its own YouTube channel.
"I really have fun working on the videos," the East High School senior said. "But I like doing the behind-the-scenes stuff instead of being on camera."
"Tristen is definitely our go-to guy for anything technical," said Cody Jaminet, an East business teacher who is in charge of the class. "That's where he shines."
If Tristen's an editing pro, Brooke Evans excels at a little bit of everything.
"I edit video, write scripts and create storyboards for upcoming segments," the 18-year-old said. "I'll try my hand at anything for EHTV."
Like Tristen, Brooke is an East High School senior. A three-year EHTV veteran, she'd like to parlay her video experience into becoming a YouTube personality.
However, her dream will have to wait until after she graduates from college.
"I hope to go to school in Oklahoma," Brooke said on a cloudy December morning. "It's probably warmer than it is here."
Since the EHTV course began five years ago, Jaminet said the class has grown from 10-12 students to more than 35 students. In addition, kids can also get college credit for the class through a partnership with Western Iowa Tech Community College.
More important to Jaminet is the fact that his students are learning the communication skills needed to make it in a competitive workplace.
"I know most of the students won't go into a broadcasting career," he said. "Instead, they're learning to communicate effectively as a part of a team."
That's certainly true for Brooke, since she's working on a separate class video, as well as participating in a video that will be shown to all Sioux City Community School District students as part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day activities, next month.
"The Martin Luther King Jr. Day video was a last-minute project," she said. "We'll really be pushing ourselves to make that deadline."
Similarly, Tristen was hard at work, putting the finishing touches on December's EHTV video.
The video -- which included segments on the opening of Cone Park, winter car safety, a Mexican chocolate recipe demonstration and a restaurant review from a high school "foodie" -- was slated to be posted on YouTube later that day.
"The one thing that I've learned in this class is to be flexible," Tristen said, inside a editing bay that was christened the "nerd corner" by his teacher. "Mistakes will be made but we solve problems by thinking on our feet."
Brooke nodded her head in agreement.
"Looking at the first stories that I did is really embarrassing," said Brooke, who is a fan of such filmmakers as Alfred Hitchcock and Steven Spielberg. "The work that I'm doing now is more professional."
Like his classmate, Tristen is convinced that his best work is his most recent work.
This will come in handy when he plans on beginning his college career at Western Iowa Tech Community College.
"After WIT, I'd like to transfer to a four-year college," Tristen said.
And after that, a one-way ticket to Hollywood to unseat Michael Bay?
"No," he said. "I wouldn't mind working at a local TV station, though."
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SIOUX CITY — For the last 12 years, Alan Severson has spent just about every major holiday, including Christmas, eating at China Star Buffet in Sioux City.
Although the 66-year-old retiree is single and his only son is in Ames, Iowa, Severson never feels lonely when he comes to China Star, 3201 Gordon Drive.
“It’s like my family here,” he said.
A regular at the restaurant, he is often joined during his meals by 10-year-old Matthew Lin, whose parents work at China Star.
“It’s a great place to meet new people,” Matthew said. “It’s where I met Al.”
Despite the 56-year age gap, the two get along wonderfully and even spend time together outside the restaurant when Matthew’s parents are working.
On one recent visit, they watched “Star Wars: A New Hope” because Matthew is a big fan of the series and has a lot of thoughts about "The Last Jedi," the most recent film in the saga.
"Did you notice the thing about the walkers/AT-ATs?" he said. "The new ones, they're better. If you look at their legs, there's like spikes (on them) and they are bigger."
Besides the company of an esteemed film buff, Severson also enjoys the food at China Star.
“My favorite is everything; shrimp especially,” he said.
Jo Lin, Matthew’s mother, said because of the support they get from customers like Severson they don’t mind being open on holidays.
“They appreciate that we are open,” she said.
Dozens of other people also spent time at China Star, including a trio of high school students from South Sioux City who had their first Christmas Day dining-out experience Monday.
“We were just at the house doing nothing, so we were like let’s go eat somewhere,” said Eric Munoz, a member of the trio.
After 20 minutes of driving around the area, they discovered that China Star, a restaurant none of them had been to before, was open to their collective relief.
“He was jumping out the seat,” said Julian Khamphongphane, one of Munoz’s friends.
“I was hungry, bro,” Munoz replied.