Media pervades every level of the educational system in Lee County School District (LCSD) but not like one might think. Student-led media teams from the elementary schools to the high school are gathering the news to share on the big screen, in printed newsletters and online. From YouTube and television tubes in each classroom, to newsletters and websites, LCSD students are attempting to tell their story everywhere that news can be found.
It began in the mind’s eye of LCSD’s Media Literacy Specialist Don Patterson some five years ago, the onset of which looked quite different than what can be found in the schools now.
“We wanted to develop a program in the district, in all of the schools, where each is responsible for producing their own news and broadcasts,” says Patterson. “There is a progression. We start with the third grade students and work with them to fifth and then they join the media literacy team at the middle school and the high school.”
Coordinators at each school are leveraging the tech-savviness of the students to promote school events and programs; laud student and teacher achievement; and to broaden the scope of the students’ knowledge about the media field, says Vanessa Bostic who advises the media team at Dennis Elementary School (DES), Divine News.
“The concept came through Mr. Patterson and evolved last year into a media team. We use it to keep the community and district informed,” says Bostic. ‘We also use it to ensure they are exploring different types of careers.”
Outlined in the S.C. Personal Pathways to Success through the S.C. Education and Economic Development Act (EEDA) is a beckoning for schools to connect business and education, with a goal of boosting economic development, says Bostic. The act purposes to introduce students to career readiness in grades K through 5; job exploration in middle school; and preparation for the job market in high school and beyond.
A student must have high academic achievement, excellent character and be recommended by a teacher to be selected to serve on the media team. Upon selection, they move forward in the process, says Bostic.
“We hold an interview day,” she says. “They actually applied for the positions.
Once on the team, members at West Lee Elementary School (WLE) are responsible for completing all assignments, maintaining at least a "C" average in all subjects, and adhering to all school rules. Each of the schools have set forth a character clause which encourages students to conduct themselves with integrity, respect, teamwork, discipline and responsibility in order to serve.
A fifth-grader at DES, De’Marion Morgan’s Plan A is to study medicine with a Plan B of becoming a professional football player. Morgan says he will operate the video camera at his school in the meantime. His reason for joining the team was far from his having a passion for the field.
“I wanted to be a part of something special,” says Morgan. “Growing up with my mom, she loved to take pictures and I would mostly take them for her. I knew I’d probably be a good fit for the media team.”
Arnicia Colbert advises the students of WLE and says the wide range of experience at the elementary level prepares them for working on the middle and high school teams.
“The students are exposed to all things media production, including a news show and a school newspaper,” says Colbert.
Their positions include, director, editor, floor manager, executive producer, camera operator, writer, talent, and production assistant. Fully operational, these teams require minimal supervision from Patterson.
“Everybody has to buy into the process (and) the learning that’s coming out of it,” he says. “So each school has someone who is in charge.”
Patterson now undergirds the vision of each school advisor budgetarily and in regard to the purchase of equipment and watches as his 5-year vision unfolds.
Pictured (Left to Right): Lakevia Austin, DeMarion Morgan, Allan Rogers, Nasir Jackson, Shaunia Briddell, Taylor Lewis and Ajani Wynter
DENNIS ELEMENTARY (Vanessa Bostic, advisor)
Lakevia Austin, floor manager/editor
Shauna Briddell, director of talent
Nasir Jackson, director
Taylor Lewis, executive producer
DeMarion Morgan, camera operator
Allan Rogers, camera operator
Ajani Wynter, production assistant
LOWER LEE ELEMENTARY (Veronica Bradley, advisor)
Naveah Dickey, talent
Breyonna Franklin, director
Nycer Henry, producer
Maurice Miles, talent
Jahiem Skyers, floor manager
Lavonta Wilson, camera operator
Zaniya Witherspoon, writer
WEST LEE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL (Arnicia Colbert, advisor)
Justin Aguilar, editor
Destiny Boyd, producer
Zhaniya McDaniel, production assistant
Maria Quiahua, videographer/photographer
Nevaeh Toney, director
Aaliya Walker, floor manager
Destiny Boyd, Rosaria Brailsford, Ty’Rihanna Mack, Zhaniya McDaniel, Ahyana Simon, Nevaeh Toney, Aaliya Walker, talent
LEE CENTRAL MIDDLE SCHOOL, (Yvonne Brown, advisor)
Emily Amado, talent
Carmen Bates, talent
Anastasia Bradley, producer
Shaena Chisholm, talent
Halley Cortez, photographer
Kaitlyn Graham, floor manager
Jasmine Hockaday, talent
Jonadrian McDaniel, talent
Tavon McFadden, camera operator
Zy’Kerria McQuillar, director
Taylor Mitchell, floor manager
Hanna Nichols, talent
Victoria Purvis, floor manager
Olivia Stinney, production assistant
Tanaisha Stuckey, talent
Desire Williams, talent
Iyana Williams, talent
Jamyah Williams, director
Alexis Wilson, producer
LEE CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL, (Jacquetta Wilson, advisor)
Travon Cooper, camera operator
Jah'Kualria Montgomery, camera operator
Vontashia Price, producer/talent
Tyra Sanders, production assistant
Jamiyah Williams, floor manager
Demetrius Wright, camera operator