See and Hear Why MAD is Such a Special Place For Students
to Navigate their High School Experience

MAD students and story-tellers speak up and explain in their voice what makes MAD so meaningful to them


The MAD Academy Difference

Here are the top reasons MAD students and parents rave about their experience:
Digital Skills – MAD Students become proficient in a variety of multimedia disciplines. This coursework is valuable for post-high school success and empowers students to put bring to life their rapidly emerging voices. These media classes are all college credit courses – which means students avoid the GPA anxiety and concern with taking traditional elective classes.
College Preparation – MAD students are very well prepared to succeed in college. With a minimum of 24 units of college credit in addition to a varying number of APs, MAD students often enter their college experience with more than a full year of college-level credits. This accelerated curriculum allows many students to graduate in three or fewer years – which represents potential savings of tens of thousands of dollars depending on which schools students attend.
It’s a Community – Students love their classmates and have a “home” within the larger high school where they feel connected, cared for and safe. The MAD community is a hive of creative and intelligent students, caring and supportive faculty, and actively involved parents. The ethos of MAD is Care, Community and Connection.
Integrated Curriculum – As an academy, MAD offers an integrated curriculum. As such, MAD students will take the majority of the core academic classes with their fellow MAD students, providing a level of comfort and continuity. Furthermore, to keep the level of student interest high, many core academic assignments will involve/require media based deliverables.
The Value of Service – We believe that healthy and vibrant communities exist when everyone gives back in meaningful ways. MAD students participate in a variety of community service projects, including annual trips to Mexico where students construct new homes together for needy families. MAD students also utilize their media skills in our local community working as interns for locally based non-profits.
Professional Experiences – MAD students leverage our world-class facilities and professional equipment to produce amazing “beyond traditional student” work. Students regularly interact with industry professionals who either teach at the Academy, visit to share their experiences, or provide opportunities for job internships. MAD students are regularly selected for the SBIFF 10/10/10 competition and other notable honors.

Key Questions / Answers

What is the ideal student MAD seeks to serve?

Just as there is no one typical Santa Barbara resident, there is no one typical ideal MAD student. MAD is a diverse community filled with many voices and many backgrounds. MAD Students, however are strivers and thrivers – they look to persevere and excel not only within the classroom but within the broader community. They are eager to find their voice to share their stories and to pursue some level of excellence after they graduate – whether that’s at a university, a community college, art school or directly at work.

What makes the MAD Academy experience better than other academies within Santa Barbara?

Parents & students considering any academy experience within the greater Santa Barbara area should do their research to understand the pros and cons of each option. We believe the MAD Academy is the best academy experience for many of the reasons listed above. It is a comprehensive, integrated 4 year program that focuses on not just academic prowess but also valuable professional and social skills development. Our students are well prepared for their next challenge whether that be excelling at a top university or producing media in Hollywood. Truly, however, the biggest difference between the MAD Academy and academies at other schools in Santa Barbara is the fact that MAD is part and parcel of Santa Barbara High School. In addition to its long and storied history, Santa Barbara High School is a microcosm of what makes Santa Barbara so great – many voices and many backgrounds coming together as one in a beautiful setting.

What’s makes the MAD Academy experience different / better than traditional SBHS experience?

Once a Don, Always a Don – which means all MAD Students first and foremost are deeply proud members of Santa Barbara High School. The MAD Academy and its programs, per se, are not better than other programs offered at SBHS. Rather, it’s different. For those students who are interested in becoming digital storytellers, MAD is likely for you.

Is MAD free? Or are there additional fees required for a student to attend?

MAD is completely free. We want amazing kids regardless of their socio-economic background. In fact we actively seek ethnic, economic, and all types of diversity to ensure a more interesting and wider set of student voices. However, because we offer a range of additional trips, services, supplemental AV equipment and facilities that our state and local funding don’t cover, we rely on those who can afford to contribute to donate generously. And, like most programs at SBHS those who can give, do, and those who can’t, often volunteer their time. What we do ask is for parent involvement in the program to ensure all students get the absolute most out of their academy experience.

MAD Academy Facilities

Students in the MAD Academy learn in state of the art facilities that were designed by media professionals to accommodate film and photography shoots, digital media creation and provide an innovative learning environment. Students access all of the industry level tools that prepare them to step right into jobs in studios, media houses or careers that they create.. The hub of MAD media courses is the Pulice Media Center which houses two studios, two digital media labs, a lounge, a food kiosk and offices. The Studio is a nearly 2,000 square foot silent stage and Studio S is just over 600 square feet. Both studios are outfitted with lighting grids, industry level lighting, sound and grip equipment. The Max Whittier Lab is comprised of 34 high end Mac editing stations and the New Media Lab contains 34 Windows video editing stations. Each media art course utilizes the space and equipment best suited to uniquely prepare MAD students for a globally competitive world.

MAD Academy Leadership

MAD Staff

Shea Peinado

Co-Director, Film

AJ Henning

Co-Director, Intro to Media Arts, Social Media/Web Design

Dean DePhillippo

Film Production

KC Thomas


Maren Lambe

Digital Imaging

Christine Feldman

Digital Imaging

Dee Pathirana

Digital Drawing

MAD Foundation

George Tharakan


Kathy Serrano


Kerry Bierman


Jennifer Griffin


Mark Flores

Paloma Arnold

Michelle Beamer

Brennen Libhart

Suzanne McCafferty

Susan Chelec

Ross Brown

Tiffany Haller

MAD Parent Leaders

Freshman Class

  • Kirsten Bennett
  • Barbara Hage

Sophomore Class

  • Candy Hedrick

Junior Class

  • Kristi Gordnier
  • Melissa Miller
  • Shae Obando

Senior Class

  • Cara Chiarappa
  • Doreen Sales

MAD Academy Gala

  • ChairAllison Marcillac