WHYY to pilot video production labs at two high schools

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

by Dan Hampton

Philadelphia High School for Girls and Kensington High School for International Business, Finance & Entrepreneurship have been chosen to pilot a Flash Media Lab program launched by WHYY.

Students in the program, which provides on-site, hands-on training, will learn video production skills, as well as research, storytelling, and interviewing techniques. Teachers at each of the participating schools will also receive training on the equipment.

“They will be producing original videos,” said Craig Santoro, director of media instruction at WHYY. “That includes all aspects of the production process from planning to editing.”

To choose which high schools would host the pilot project, the School District of Philadelphia made five recommendations to WHYY – Bodine, Swenson, Parkway Northwest, Girls High, and Kensington. Santoro said that the recommendations were based, in part, on the schools’ proximity to WHYY’s own afterschool program located on Independence Mall.

“Some students live too far from WHYY’s afterschool program, and the purpose of these labs is to serve them,” Santoro said.

Santoro met with the principals and teachers from each of the suggested schools to see whether the schools had adequate space for the equipment and to survey the ease of installation and how well the program would work at each site. Girls’ High and Kensington were chosen first. A middle school will also be selected for the program sometime next year.

Earlier this month, Girls’ High received new cameras and computers for its lab. Santoro said that WHYY hopes the new editing stations, video cameras, microphones, and tripods will help teach kids valuable life skills such as communication, team building, research, organization, and media literacy, as well as telling stories through sounds and images.

The Flash Media Lab pilot program is an extension of the media literacy courses offered at WHYY’s Dorrance H. Hamilton Public Media Commons. The project is funded by an $82,500 donation from the William Penn Foundation and a $5,000 donation from the Hamilton Family Foundation.

Although current funding is enough to support labs at four schools, Santoro said that WHYY has applied for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s American Graduate grant to add three more schools to the program. He said that news of whether the grant has been funded should come next month.

The pilot program will run through December 2015.

Dan Hampton is an intern at the Notebook.