In Staunton, Virginia, a comprehensive videography program teaches students all aspects of professional video production. The program was developed through a 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant at Shelburne Middle School. This program provides students with opportunities for long-term, hands-on activities where the focus is on doing and experimenting. The size of the program is directly proportional to the amount of resources (hardware, facilities, and staff) available, and a total of 24 students are part of the program each year. Students learn about a variety of videography technical elements, including camera, sound, lighting, script planning, writing, electronic news gathering, electronic field production, and three-camera studio production. In addition, an emphasis on ethics, professionalism, and media literacy underlies all lessons.
Through guidance and support, students gain a thorough understanding of every subject they are producing. More specifically, students meet with subject-matter experts from a variety of disciplines, including teachers in their school and other schools, studio personnel at the local TV and public broadcasting stations, professors and college students in the fields of communications and media, and business professionals in media.
This program has demonstrated long-term success due to the engagement and continuity of the students. For example, second-year students are mentors and team leaders for new students. Students have continued the use of their skills outside the program. Some students applied their media knowledge in their church activities or other outside groups such as 4-H Clubs and Boy Scouts. Others took summer jobs working in a variety of media-related activities. A few started their own webmaster and wedding photography businesses and brought all of those experiences back to school the next year. In addition, the middle school videographers later became the core personnel for their high school media programs.
The students' skills also engaged the community by soliciting enough funds to keep the program running. When the funds ran out, the students wrote and produced a propaganda video foreshadowing the demise of the afterschool program. This video won an international award in peer competition. But its real effectiveness was demonstrated when students presented it to the city council, which viewed it and immediately allocated $43,000 in emergency funds to keep the program going.
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