SHS Visual Journalism Class Shares Student Achievements

At every Shorewood School District Board meeting, special time is set aside to give different student groups the opportunity to present their unique learning experiences to the Board. This week, four students in the Shorewood High School Visual Journalism class—Alemitu Caldart, Sophia Wiley, Leland Hanewall and DeJurion Warren—along with teachers Mike Halloran and Amelia Hernandez, shared their experiences and showcased a few of their projects from the semester.

The class, which has been offered for the past four semesters, explores the ways that journalism is evolving and the fast paced changes that are happening in the industry today. The class is open primarily to juniors and seniors and spans two class periods, both first and second hour each day. A big part of this interdisciplinary class focuses on the media literacy element, where through exposure, analysis, and lots of practice, the students become savvier consumers of media and journalism, and have the ability to better determine the “good” from the “bad” news.

“It’s not at all like a normal class,” says Hanewall, a junior. “It’s more applicable to the real world and you learn a lot about the news.”

“[The class] has taught me a lot about using a computer, working with audio, video, and photography,” adds Wiley, a sophomore. “There’s a lot of freedom to choose your own path. You can pursue anything you want to do [in the class] and take [your projects] anywhere you want to. With the capstone project, we especially had our own freedom and the two hour [class period] gives you a lot of time to work on your projects.”

The last 8 weeks of the semester are dedicated to capstone projects, and students express their findings through stories in video, audio, and online. They then have the opportunity to summarize and share their projects in a public event. This semester, the students selected the theme “Growth.”

“[As the teachers} we really try to hand the class off to students and let them lead the way,” says Halloran. “They are given full creative freedom and the class syllabus is just used as a guide. It’s kind of nerve-wracking at first, but the students recreate the class...and because of this, the course is constantly evolving, so no two semesters are ever the same.”

The students currently enrolled in the class will be presenting their capstone projects to the community at the “Visual Journalism Public Night” next Monday, January 14, at Kenilworth Square East Gallery (2155 N. Prospect Ave.). All are encouraged to attend this free event and learn more about the projects.

View the full Visual Journalism Board presentation here.