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Steubenville High School launches educational access channel

HANDS-ON LEARNING — Steubenville High School juniors, from left, Dylan Lewis, Jonathan Burchfield and Nolan Gentile say the school’s new educational access channel is allowing them to hone their videography, photography and editing skills. (Contributed photo)

STEUBENVILLE — Students involved in preparing content for Steubenville City Schools’ new educational access channel see it as career training.

About 30 students are currently enrolled in Big Red’s multimedia program, learning things like video production, photography, motion graphics, audio production, and social media packaging — skillsets essential to the television industry in general, but crucial to a fledgling school educational access channel.

All of the content airing on the new SCS TV — Channel 15 on Comcast — has been produced by Big Red’s multimedia students.

“The access channel has given me the opportunity to create material that goes directly to helping the community and younger students, like my siblings,” senior Rylee Pierce said. “Our creations have also helped me to move forward in my photography and videography career and to build my portfolio.”

Career Technology Instructor Natalie Campana, a career technology instructor, said the focus initially was on bringing pre-school content to the public airwaves, but eventually they’ll be airing programming for pre-school through the 12th grade, and keeping parents up-to-date with current events and community and school announcements.

Additionally, due to social distancing she said some sports will be premiered on the channel “for everyone to see their Steubenville athletes compete.”

Principal Ted Gorman figures SCS TV “is going to be a wonderful learning tool to keep our students connected.”

“This channel will keep parents up to date with current events and community and school announcement (and) ensure that our remote learners have further access to instructional programming designed by Steubenville City School educators,” he said. “The content that is created will help inform and involve the community in our education.”

Campana said students are engaged and dedicated to their deadlines and ensuring that all content displays (school) pride,” she said “The educational access channel will grow and develop throughout the year, helping to foster a higher level of learning for all our students at Steubenville City Schools.”

She said it was Superintendent Melissa Young who recognized the learning void back in May, when schools across the nation were scrambling to make sure kids had access to educational materials during the extended COVID shutdown.

“It’s really awesome, really exciting,” Campana said. “Mrs. Young met with superintendents from all around the state of Ohio — in bigger cities they already have these channels, but everybody is talking about reusing them, re-purposing them” as a learning tool for students.

“There’s educational content, mainly for elementary kids now,” she adds. “It’s updated frequently. We’ll have information for sports and other events at schools, other entities, like the library and the city of Steubenville, you’ll be able to see what’s happening there. It’s for everybody, it’s educational access.”

Campana said the goal is “to get information out that needs out, and help kids learn. And if we go into a COVID (situation) … we can utilize it as a teaching opportunity for younger grades.”

For now, though, she said they’re focused content-wise on getting supplemental material on the air. “There might be some lessons that go on, but we haven’t gotten that far,” she said. “This is all new.”

The real winners, though, may be the students producing the content.

“My parents are alumni of SHS and being a part of the multimedia team … allows me to be part of a program that has helped educate students for many years,” video editor Amaria Swearengen, a junior, said. “The content we create helps inform and involve the community in our education.”

Nolan Gentile said part of his job is “to keep stadium equipment operational every Friday at Harding Stadium.”

“I also perform live ESPN editing for instant replay during the games,” Gentile, a junior, said. “These are a real life skill set used in the industry.”

Junior Dylan Lewis said he likes seeing what he creates as a graphic designer for digital signage “produced correctly in Photoshop, After Effects, and Final Cut.”

“I’m able to incorporate design principles and marketing into the SCS TV program,” Lewis added.

“What we are learning right here at SHS in the multimedia team is similar to college courses in communication arts,” junior Johnathan Burchfield said. “This is an excellent preparation for rigorous communications courses which require motion graphic creation, special effects and video composition.”

Campana said she likes what she sees happening, pointing out in the past schools “might run school news once day, and after that PowerPoints.”

“No one has ever taken it to this level before, it’s always just been visual signage information,” she said. “It’s never been to this level, pulling content from all the elementary schools and posting it.

“This is on a whole other level. The videos and promotional materials we’ve made … we just want to keep families and everybody in the community engaged at a higher level of learning, to learn and continue learning throughout their life. That’s what we’re trying to do.”

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