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Where there’s a will, there’s a way.  The switch to virtual learning won’t slow down the Grants High School Creative Media Department.  Even during the pandemic, the students have managed to interview athletes, teachers and administrators to improve their broadcasting and reporting skills.

“We revived the student-led media department here,” said Grants instructor and coach Ron Gonzales.  “This is the first year returning to a program that we once had in place.”

Gonzales is a career journalist.  He was the editor-in-chief at TVI Times, the newspaper for the Albuquerque’s Technical Vocation Institute.  Gonzales also wrote for the Daily Lobo at the University of New Mexico, as well as working with the media on a regular basis as a sports information director with the Lobos.

“I have a passion for this and wanted to see if I could create something with it,” said Gonzales.

With about 50 kids involved in the program, the students meet twice a week for discussion and guidance.  “I treat them as staff meetings, much like a newspaper” Gonzales said.  “It’s a time to pitch story ideas, set up times for interviews, and discus possible questions.”

The goal for Gonzales is to develop a ‘news arm’ for the school, but brought to the community by the students.

“We spent the better part of the first nine weeks training kids virtually,” he explained.  “We teach them about open-ended questions, and other basics.  Now we have kids submitting videos they recorded from home or through Google Meet and Zoom.  We then take those stories and put together a little news show on our social media channels.”

With basic equipment like iPads, cell phones and ear buds, the students produce stories that range from interviewing the school principal about a new media center, speaking with an agriculture teacher about a county fair, profiling staff, and spotlighting a new school program about drone technology.

“When we interview people, we go off our notes and sometimes we have a wipe board in front of the cameraman to stay on track and it reminds us when to bring up the next subject, it helps a lot,” said senior Kristina Simpson who is in her first year with the program.

“I’ve done reports on UFC fights,” said Grants High School junior Armando Davila.  “I like to get into the fighter’s background, what got them into fighting, their records and titles.”

Over time, Gonzales hopes to have his students submit their stories for competition.  “That is something we would want to accomplish, but the main goal is to have a student media news arm for the school year after year,” he said.

The media arts class also teaches students skills they can use later in life, whether they choose to be a journalist or not.

“This class is helping me a lot with public speaking,” said Simpson. “I’m a shy person and don’t get out and talk with people, especially not in front of a camera, and it’s helped me get out there and be more confident in myself.”

“I like reporting on news,” said Davila.  “I’m also into photography; I’m trying to pursue that as a career. I like the creativity as an art form, there’s so much you can do with it.”

“I tell these kids that careers in media are still viable and still out there,” he added.  “At the very least, these kids are learning real world skills.”

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