Lights, camera, action for students at Anoka Middle School for the Arts

Thanks to the addition of “Digital Production III,” Anoka Middle School for the Arts (AMSA) now has a student-led news cast.

As part of their Digital Production III class, Anoka Middle School for the Arts eighth grade students Judson Abeler, Jacob McNeff, Joey Lohse, Taron Townsend, and Landon Max (left to right) enjoy creating a news program for their peers.

As part of their Digital Production III class, Anoka Middle School for the Arts eighth grade students Judson Abeler, Jacob McNeff, Joey Lohse, Taron Townsend, and Landon Max (left to right) enjoy creating a news program for their peers.

Teacher Matt Sandys, who also teaches Digital Production I and II, said the class was added because it was a natural progression and there was a need to add it. Creating the school newscast with iMovie and Photoshop is just part of the class that also includes lessons in Adobe Illustrator.

“The kids like that they don’t have worksheets or homework; everything is done on the computer or in class,” Sandys said. “They love the things that they can create and making something their own. It’s not a ‘one size fits all’ class.’”

Because the student-driven newscast is new to the school, a storage closet was modified to be a TV studio. Five newscasts have been created to date, with students being assigned roles for in front of and behind the camera. A newscast just before Veterans Day included a special segment on the holiday as well as the newscast standbys of local and world news, weather, geography, artisan’s corner, sports, and tech bites.

In addition to learning technical skills, the class teaches news gathering, journalism and public speaking skills and incorporates areas such as English, geography and art into lessons. The eighth grade students are very enthusiastic about the class.

“It’s fun because we get to work on a variety of projects,” said Judson Abeler.

Taron Townsend likes working as the camera man so he can “call the shots.” Landon Max enjoys working as an editor to make the show “look amazing.” Jacob McNeff said working in television is something he would possibly do as an adult.

“It’s fun because we get to use computers and cameras,” said Joey Lohse. “I also like being the anchor because I like everyone seeing me,” he said with a smile.

AMSA Principal Jerri McGonigal also likes the class.

“I think it’s great any time we can give students a ‘voice’ and an authentic audience when they are creating and learning,” she said.

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