The classroom is lit only by the glow of computers. Students hunch over their keyboards, running their hands through their hair trying to figure out the perfect word or clip to insert into their latest news story.
Erika Quick’s broadcast journalism classroom at Cody High School is a hub of activity on a late-start Thursday morning. These students are trying to find their voice, and according to the Wyoming Department of Education, they’ve done well. The Department awarded Quick and CHS Wired the “Student Voices” Digital Learning Innovations Award at the beginning of the month.
Student voices are what Quick wants CHS Wired and the entire broadcast journalism program to be all about.
“This is where I found my passion and what I want to do for the rest of my life,” said senior Tashi Mathuin, director of CHS Wired.
Quick is hands-off when it comes to content, preferring to let her students run the show.
“They lead it,” Quick said. “They choose what to cover, they make editorial decisions. Half the time they forget I’m even here.”
The students have taken the show and run with it. They produce videos and news stories, work different kinds of editing programs, practice with camera and audio equipment, and put the show together from start to finish.
Like any other newsroom, they hold editorial meetings, keep deadlines and have to stand behind their work. Unlike a professional journalist, though, they have to go to class with their audience.
“I love it when they take that risk and find their voice, but it’s hard,” Quick said. “They have this team product that’s viewed by the student body and the whole community.”
Quick makes sure there’s no shortage of media the students can work in.
“I told them we could get a podcast on iTunes,” Quick said. “So I did two weeks of work to figure out how to make that happen.”
Junior Raelynn Mong has become Wired’s top graphics artist and video editor. It’s a big part of her day, so much so that she asks other teachers to excuse her to work on projects for the news crew.
“I just really like it,” Mong said. “It’s stressful and stress-relieving at the same time.”
As much as CHS Wired is an opportunity for students to learn about broadcast journalism and producing a news show, it’s also an opportunity for them to be creative.
“It’s a class like no other, in that we get to bridge self-expression with gaining life skills,” Mathuin said. “The possibilities in this room just seem so endless. You can be really creative here.”
Quick is always expanding her repertoire of skills and technology to keep up with the shifting trends in the journalism world.
“Every year it’s changing,” she said. “I can’t teach them the same thing every year.”
Career and Technical Education courses like broadcast journalism don’t just keep the teachers and the students learning. For some, it keeps them in school.
“These are the classes that have gotten me through high school,” Mathuin said. “Not that I would have dropped out, but I would have gotten a lot closer.”