What is your name?
What school do you teach at?
Monta Vista High School
What city and state is your school located in?
How many students are involved at the media program at your school?
Describe your space for us.
Our newsroom is broken into three rooms, which students refer to as the studio, A111 and A112. Students typically use the studio to conduct interviews and record audio, where a white canvas and some small lights are present for video interviews, and during our late nights some students use the room as a quiet place to work. The main room A111 has been our room for the past decade, and the bulk of our lessons, meetings and work is done here. On the east side of the room there are five rows of computers with six computers per row where students work on page designs and any online work, and on the west side of the room we have 10 folding tables for direct instruction and, of course, late night dinners. At these tables we go over lessons and showcases with the whiteboard and projector at the front of the room, and we hold MOE (marriage of element) meetings to brainstorm our magazine’s design, pulling magazines from the magazine racks laid out across the room for inspiration. In our second room, A112, the leadership program brought in some roundtables this semester where we use the arrangement to collaborate within our sections on story pitches and to have editors check in on content assigned out to staff writers.
What do you think are some of the benefits of the workspace you all have?
The relative size and arrangement of all our rooms makes it easy for collaboration and secluded work to occur simultaneously, because usually students will move to one room to have large group discussions leaving the other two rooms relatively quiet and peaceful. Even better, is the fact that each room hasn’t been arranged for a single purpose. We can collaborate and hold meetings in our studio, hold interviews in our main room because of its size and the collaboration room can become a silent place to work between class periods.
What do your students like most about the workspace you have?
Our students like the rows of computers, because there are always a few computers available for use at any given moment in the day, and our managing editors’ team like the roundtables in the alternate room because they help keep each section focused, involved and productive.
What computer programs and/or apps is your staff using on a regular basis for their work?
We use Google Docs and Sheets to request edits on stories and coordinate our story assignments, and Facebook to communicate with the entire staff. For our newsmagazine, we design our pages in InDesign, edit photos in Photoshop and create graphics in Illustrator. For our online content, we post on our WordPress website elestoque.org and update our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat accounts regularly.
What tech equipment are your students using on a daily basis?
The program has around 15-20 various camera bodies, all of them Nikon ranging from D40’s, D90’s, D3100’s, D3200’s, D3300’s, D3400’s, a D5300 and a D7100 for photo and video production. There are 5-6 Rode Shotgun Microphones, 7-8 Vidpro Lav Mics, and 3 handheld audio recorders. Concerning lenses, we have a 2:1 ratio of lenses to cameras, with 18-50 kit lenses, a 35mm lens, three 24-70 Tamron lenses, a 55-200 Nikkor lens and three 70-200 Tamron lenses. We also have 15 SunPak tripods for video production and around 20 Bose headphones about a few years old. The computers in our room are iMacs with the Adobe Suite, and some of our students also bring in their own laptops.
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.
The Bose headphones give students an option to transcribe interviews during class time and keep some control of the class, especially during our late nights when some just need an outlet from the rest of the chaos happening around them.
How is your workspace funded?
Most of our advertising revenue and grant money goes towards printing our newsmagazine, and this is in large part to the fact that we do everything in our power to maintain the equipment we have instead of replacing it, so for the past few years, there has been little to no turnover of equipment. About two years ago we received a donation of equipment from a former editor-in-chief that amounted to about half our current inventory, and as of this year our school’s financial specialist gave us some money for more equipment. We also received some funding from the principal’s personal account to offset the loss of a $3,000 foundation grant when the foundation decided to diversify its funding.
Do you have anything on your wishlist for your space? If so, what do you have and why?
Our main issue is keeping track of miscellaneous items, like whiteboards, markers and lens caps. With the yearly transition of visuals editors and equipment managers, we’ve had difficulty keeping these items in good condition for long periods of time. We hope to replace our whiteboards with new ones that can be easily erased as well as whiteboard markers. We also hope to acquire more lens caps because they are essential in prolonging the good condition of our lenses and camera bodies.
(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.)