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Westlake's Cullen Fast Tracks to Film Success

THORNWOOD, N.Y. – Dennis Cullen may only be a teenager as a senior at Westlake High School, but he is already well on his way to fulfilling his goal of a career in the film and television industry.  Cullen is currently getting his feet wet at the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville through Westlake’s senior internship program.

“It’s been really cool, some of it is office work but I’ve got to meet a lot of different people from the various departments here and right now I’m working on creating my own movie,” said Cullen, who one day wants to be a movie director.

The film lab isn’t the only place that Cullen strives in.  This spring Cullen was notified that his achievements in the classroom were good enough to name him the valedictorian for the class of 2012.  The Hawthorne resident spends five days a week at the Burns Center and also serves as the president of Westlake’s art club and drama club.  Earlier this year, Cullen and his classmate Joshua Yamuder participated in the C-SPAN StudentCam competition where they made a short documentary about politics and public policy.  Out of more than 1,200 participants, the two students were one of 75 contestants to be named winners in the competition and were visited at Westlake by the C-SPAN Campaign 2012 Bus.

With all that he’s involved with, Cullen admits that it’s sometimes difficult to balance everything out.

“With clubs and academics and everything like that, being involved with so much is sometimes time consuming and it’s hard to stay on top of everything,” Cullen said.

In the fall, Cullen will attend St. John’s University in Queens where he will study in the Film and Television program and hopes to participate in the school’s TV club and radio station.

As he wraps up his senior internship and enjoys the last few weeks of school with his classmates and friends, there is one more task that Cullen needs to fit in to his schedule – preparing his graduation day speech.

“I’ve been brainstorming about it, I’m trying to come up with a topic that I can run with,” Cullen said.  “I’m a little nervous but I’m excited, once I get up there I’m sure I’ll feel better.”

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