This summer, some students were utilizing their break from school… with more school.
Each year, twenty high school journalists are selected to take part in the Peace Sullivan/James Ansin High School Workshop in Journalism and New Media. Held at the University of Miami, the three-week program gave students the opportunity to produce journalism in photography, writing and broadcast.
Benjamin Estrada, a rising senior at Coral Gables High School, was one of those selected to participate.
“The coolest thing about Montage is the different kinds of journalism it exposes people to,” Estrada said.“Everybody has different backgrounds in journalism, from newspaper to broadcast. This workshop gives people the chance to try things they haven’t tried before.”
Each year, the participants choose a theme that their articles will focus on. This year, the topic was technology and how it affects Miami communities. Ashley Acevedo, a rising senior at John A. Ferguson Senior High School and participant of the workshop, shared why this is a particularly engaging topic.
“I think the social media topic is very interesting for us, because it’s something we can relate to, especially with all these new technologies being created,” she said. “I feel like it’s taken a really big toll on everyone’s lives, especially the 21st century teenager with social media.”
Over the course of the three weeks, the young journalists not only gained insight on the different aspects of journalism, but were also able to experience life on a college campus.
“It allows them to become familiar with the university campus and become familiar with being away from home while exposing them to college life,” said Tsitsi Wakhisi, a previous director of the program.
But these perks go beyond college experience. The young journalists are also able to share the skills they’ve gathered with their publications at the end of the workshop. Chief counselor and writing coach Rebecca Fortes reflects on the students’ improvements throughout the workshop.
“I think the benefit of Montage is that students take the experience and skills that they learned here, and it puts you a little bit ahead of the curve…” Fortes said. “And just to see the confidence that students walk out of here with is incredible.”
This has been a goal of Montage since the program was first founded in 1984. Martin Bruce Garrison, the founder of the workshop, spoke about his hopes for the program and the students involved with it.
“Workshop participants can take what they learn back to their high school news media and share with their staffs,” Garrison said. “And, we hope, they will decide to study journalism at a university and begin a career in the news business.”
Sam Terilli, co-director of Miami Montage and chair of the Department of Journalism and Media Management at UM, agreed.
“What I’m really hoping for students is that they get a jump on developing these skills, and they enter college, whether they realize it or not, ahead of the rest of the pack.”