Milton H.S. Media Lab building bridges in community and school - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Milton H.S. Media Lab building bridges in community and school

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Media production classes are nothing new in school with kids creating their own news programs. But the power of media is having a surprisingly positive effect at Milton High School where a small group of students have created a TV show with a loyal, school wide following.

This huddle, this good time is more than just fun.

"It exceeded my wildest expectations," said Peter Wyndorf a Milton High School teacher and director of the school's Creative Media Lab.

It is a last minute review for the Yellow Jacket Television cast - before the latest broadcast goes to air.

"It's basically being able to come up with something that's your own and being able to get it out to the school," said Sara Manfredi, a Milton High School junior.

It's serious business for these students in Wyndorf's class. They write, shoot, star in and edit every episode. The TV production class is just one of the lab's academic offerings.

"Proud of these kids, they blow me away every single day," Wyndorf said.

Wyndorf started the media lab with an idea -- an empty classroom -- and an ok from school officials a few years ago. It's grown into a fully equipped operation with multiple cameras, digital editing and professional sound-mixing. "Just making phone calls, emails -- I got a lot of stuff donated," Wyndorf said.

Now students can take film production and audio production classes along with the Yellow Jacket TV class which launched in the fall.

"This cast for yellow jacket has become this weird dysfunctional family," Manfredi said.

Yellow Jacket TV is a twice-monthly news magazine that showcased Milton kids and their passions. Producing that much TV every two weeks puts pressure on the team and has brought the cast closer together, collaborating on every aspect of each episode.

Reporter Kristin Kelly: You're relying on other people for the success of your own work. Is that challenging?

Sara Manfredi: It really tests your patience.

And that's part of the point. The class not only teaches the writing and technical skills needed to create a TV program, but also ties in with new state education standards for communication, collaboration, critical thinking and problem-solving. The so-called "transferable skills" needed in the real world.

"They're leaving with a really good skill set that can be applied in a job or a college setting, and they also have this really incredible body of work, this digital portfolio that follows them around," said Scott Thompson, Milton High School's Principal.

The Media Lab has an added benefit that goes beyond the classroom. Officials say it's helping to build a more positive school wide community. Each episode is not only broadcast on the Web, It debuts in the auditorium, in front of the entire school. It's become a runaway hit and students urged school officials to create the school wide, show-watching assembly.

"It's really kind of emotional for me when we watch these because I see the pride, not only in the work the students created, but everyone that's watching is smiling and celebrating and singing along," Thompson said.

"It's more of a showcase of what makes our school so special," said Luke Covey, a senior who covers sports for the program. He says while the cast did not necessarily start out trying to build community through its broadcast, it's been exciting to see that happen. "Even though we're not a huge school with thousands of kids, it's still tough to know everybody. And with this, you kind of see things that people are doing that you might not have known about. You see this kid that's quiet and you think, they're weird, but really they're doing really cool things... ...that you had no idea about," he said.

The cast tries to feature students and projects that don't normally see the spotlight. "To tell those stories about kids who do amazing things. They deserve the community's support, they deserve everybody saying, 'wow, you are amazing,' instead of, 'No loitering, get out of here, teens are up to no good.' They're not. They're up to amazing creative empathetic community-based things," Wyndorf said.

Some extra good news brought to you by Yellow Jacket TV.

Click here for some video clips from Yellow Jacket TV

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