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Prescott High School Focusing On Broadcast Journalism, Virtual Reality

02 November 2017  
Prescott High School teacher Robyn Bryce works with students to produce a newscast each day. All Photos by: Torrence Dunham

Together with Boys and Girls Club of Central Arizona, Prescott High School Brings Students Into World of Broadcast Media

PRESCOTT- The classroom of Ms. Robyn Bryce at Prescott High School during the 9:00 am hour is not a typical environment. In fact, had one not walked through the doors of a school it would be hard to differentiate the classroom from a television newsroom.

“It’s crazy up in here,” Bryce said laughing.

Each morning, Bryce and her students produce a morning newscast where the teenagers curate the content, script the show and telecast it live on YouTube each day with anchors. The broadcast features everything one would see in a television newsroom in terms of jobs, such as a director and audio coordinator, along with utilizing professional equipment.

“The kids are really the ones that are running the studio, that is making it all happen,” Bryce said. “I just facilitate the experience. These kids are growing leaps and bounds.”

Through coordination with the school district, Boys and Girls Club of Central Arizona, and JTED (Junior Technical Education), the course just completed a planning phase that was four years in the making. Upon hearing the plan from Bryce a few years ago, Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club of Central Arizona Gerald Szostak was intrigued with the idea.

“It was a really great idea and something that we’ve never done as a Boys and Girls Club organization here,” Szostak said. “We really wanted to work with Prescott High School and serve some teams. This came to fruition and it has been a great partnership since.”

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Over the years, the program has continued to acquire equipment used in the broadcast industry and put them in the hands of students.

“We started with iPhones and iPods and Mac computers from 2001,” Bryce said. “Now to have all this gear, this is a true school to work program. These kids are learning skills that, while still in school, are able to get internships or go to a company and go into content creation or even graduate and go into the media field.”

Prescott High School sophomore Ashlyn Cumming knew she was interested in the media field. Since joining the broadcast class, Cumming has been exposed to another branch of the industry and is becoming more versatile for opportunities past graduation.

“It’s a wonderful program and I want to go into photography or journalism of some sort..I’m glad I was able to discover the film portion of it too,” Cumming said. “I’m learning valuable skills which is going to be really exciting to take into a work environment.”

Employment preparation is the goal for Bryce, the school, and the various technical education programs.

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“Whenever CTE (Career Technical Education) has that idea of what a CTE program is, I truly feel that is what this is,” Bryce said. “To teach these kids ways to engage and create media in ways that benefit the community, and benefit their lives, is such a special opportunity.”

Not only is the goal to teach students current standards but also prepare them for the future. Recently, the team has been experimenting with virtual reality and hope to create their own content in a matter of time.

“The application for VR (Virtual Reality), AR (Augmented Reality) and 360 is boundless and we are just touching the very beginning of it,” Bryce said. “There are so many possibilities where VR or AR or 360 worlds can take these kids, It’s not just gaming.”

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Bryce mentioned a few possibilities could be created for community partnerships, educational or student personal use, such as creating a gallery of artwork for individuals to look through and interact with using virtual reality technology. Thus, Bryce will soon be writing a grant to create a VR lab for students to utilize.

“We are doing amazing things and prepping these kids for the future,” Bryce said.

Bryce thanks all those involved including Prescott High School Principal Stephanie Hillig and Prescott Unified School District Superintendent Joe Howard for making this program possible.

Individuals can view the daily announcements live on YouTube produced by the students each day around 9:45 am.

Torrence Dunham

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