I’m adviser Courtney Hanks, and this is my newsroom…

What is your name?
Courtney Hanks

What school do you teach at?
University High School

What city and state is your school located in?
Orange City, Florida

What different media are produced at the school?
We produce the Odyssey yearbook, the uhspress.com blog site, Titanium semi-annual magazine, and run the UHSpress social media.

How many students are involved at the media program at your school?

Describe your space for us.
It’s a large classroom, with tables in the middle and iMacs lining the walls. At the front of the room is a large, wooden table that seats up to ten editors. They use it for our weekly meetings and when we have a lot of papers. There is a bookshelf in the corner where the students each get an inbox, which houses their spread folders and staff manuals, as well as other miscellaneous items. Resources, like example magazines and other school’s yearbooks, are organized around the room.

What do you think are some of the benefits of the workspace you all have?
I love our room. It’s big enough to keep the computers off the middle tables, so that we can have designated time away from technology. We have plenty of wall space to keep pictures and mementos from over the years. The front table was a labor of love, and having spaces like that around the room that feel personal reinforce the classroom community.

What do your students like most about the workspace you have?
Since I started at University three years ago, I’ve had several of the same students in my publications course and this is as much their room as it is mine, which shows in comfortable, flexible seating throughout. Staying organized is also very important to a press staff, so they like being able to access materials and supplies in their student areas without having to come to me. But if I think about it honestly, they really like having a microwave and Keurig, and they like their sticker board, where they get stickers for going above and beyond.

What computer programs and/or apps is your staff using on a regular basis for their work?
We use the Adobe suite pretty regularly for yearbook and magazine. All of my students are required to use Photoshop and InDesign, but many of them find themselves using their other programs to bring their multimedia dreams to life. I encourage them to explore and gain a sense of adventure when it comes to technology. We also just migrated from Trello and Slack to Basecamp, which so far has worked out well. We post to Instagram and Twitter, with Twitter being a secondary part of our WordPress website, UHSpress.com

What tech equipment are your students using on a daily basis?
My students handle a lot of technology, including our eight Canon DSLR cameras, that range from T5 to 5D models. Most of our cameras are Canon 70D cameras, which are upgraded enough to produce a pretty decent photo in lower lighting. We have four MacBook Pro laptops that students can check out for homework usage, but most of our work is done on our 8-year-old iMac desktops. We also have some audio equipment for using the DSLR cameras to create professional video, and tripods and a monopod.

 Aside from the computers and the programs, what are one or two pieces of equipment that you have that you think other programs should have.
Our drive, which we just recently upgraded to the QNAP TS-251+ 2-Bay Home and SOHO NAS Enclosure with 8tb of data storage. It’s hooked up to our in-class network and gives us a space to put our mass of photography. We also upgraded to a Canon 5D this year, and purchased several fixed lenses. My favorite lens we purchased was a Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC HSM Art Lens for Canon. The photos we take on it are so clear with a beautiful blurred background, and it forces kids to physically move closer to their subjects.

How is your workspace funded?
We aren’t exactly funded externally. We have been helped with SAC funds to help send kids to journalism camps. Other than that, we look to the community for ad sales in our magazine and yearbook. We also host a few fundraisers throughout the year, which end up paying for staff events and a few smaller technology needs for the classroom. Our bigger needs are met through the profitability of our yearbook program, which has developed in recent years to cover new technology. We will be starting soon to save to replace the lab computers. At eight-years-old, they are dying left and right. It’s challenging to run a program that is so integrally technology dependent when the technology is undependable and outdated.

Do you have anything on your wishlist for your space? If so, what do you have and why?
If there was a magic wand that granted journalism classroom wishes, I would wish it would replace the 25 iMacs in the lab.

(This is one of a series of posts where high school newsrooms are showcased. We’d love to showcase your newsroom on the site. To find out how, check out the information here and submit yours today.)

Aaron Manfull

Aaron is in his 26th year of advising student media. He is currently the Director of Student Media at Francis Howell North High School in St. Charles, Missouri. He is the Journalism Education Association Digital Media Chair and co-Director of Media Now. He is the 2023 JEA Teacher Inspiration Award Winner and is a former Dow Jones News Fund National Journalism Teacher of the Year. He is one of the authors of the textbook "Student Journalism and Media Literacy." You can find him on X and Instagram @manfull. He's a proud father. A transplanted Iowan. And an avid Hawkeye Fan.

Aaron Manfull has 868 posts and counting. See all posts by Aaron Manfull

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