Experiencing the High School Summer Digital Workshop

High School Digital Workshop

By Emily Study, SoC Website Reporter

Everyone has a story to tell, but how do we record it?

Through a combination of written word, audio and video, the School of Communication (SoC) will teach 30 high school students how to become more comfortable with multi-platform journalism at the High School Digital Storytelling Workshop June 16-21.

“The goal for the high school students [is] to expose them to 21st century journalism,” said John Slania, program director of journalism and a professor at the workshop. “To be a 21st century journalist, you have to know how to write, record and edit audio, and shoot and edit video. Then that product gets posted on the Internet.”

The free workshop will allow students to learn from top SoC faculty members, explore the city of Chicago and live in Baumhart Hall, just blocks away from Michigan Avenue.

“This is really a way for them to experience college,” said Meghan Ashbrock, SoC events coordinator. “It’s a lot of what our School of Communication students experience. It’s a week in the life of an SoC student.”

During the first three days of the workshop, the students will attend morning lectures with three professors: Slania, Aaron Greer and Ralph Braseth. Slania teaches the written word portion of the workshop; Greer, program director of international film and media studies, teaches the video portion; and Braseth, student media manager, teaches the audio portion.

After the morning lectures, the students put what they learn to the test by going out into different neighborhoods to collect their stories. This summer, the students will be traveling to Chinatown, the Lincoln Park Zoo, Millennium Park, Oak Street Beach and Navy Pier, according to Ashbrock.

“One of the most difficult things, whether it’s a high school student or a Loyola senior, is to get people out on the street interviewing people,” Braseth said. “But we take them out every single day and they are reporting every day. They come back, they write, they produce and they edit in all of these different formats, and at the end [of the week], they come up with a really nice website.”

The photos, stories, videos and interactive map that the students produced at last year’s workshop can be viewed at loyolasummerstories.com.

“I got to see Chicago and to learn skills that have helped me today,” said Natalie Laczewski, who attended the workshop last summer.

Laczewski, a current junior at Lakes Community High School, wrote her story about visitors at Oak Street Beach.

“With interviewing people, you need to get comfortable with them and have them tell their story,” she said.

Another student who attended the workshop said it helped her to do something she wouldn’t normally feel comfortable doing.

“It got me out of my comfort zone, because at school I interviewed people I either knew or knew of, but during the workshop I had to talk to total strangers,” said Stephanie Drucker, who is the editor-in-chief of her school newspaper. “It was just generally a great way to sharpen my skills.”

Not only did the students benefit from the days’ assignments, but they also developed friendships along the way.

“I just really enjoyed meeting kids from the other areas of Chicago. We all had a really fun time,” said Drucker, a senior at Niles North High School. “It’s great to see that other people are interested in journalism like I am.”

Kelsey Phillips, who attended the workshop, said she also enjoyed spending time with the other students.  

“They made me feel welcome and at home,” said Phillips, a senior at Power House High.

 The applications for this year’s workshop are now available at highschooldigital.com. The deadline to apply is March 15.