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Student Media Team Finds Inspiration (and News) Across the District

After school program gives voice and real world experience to student reporters, editors, producers and writers

The lights are bright, the cameras are ready to roll, and the reporter is fully prepped. She steps into the studio and delivers news with confidence and poise, like a longtime pro. But this isn’t a national news broadcast, it’s Ellie McGinley, a 10th grade high school student from the Baltimore City Public Schools Student Media Team! 

The Student Media Team is an after-school program where student reporters, editors, graphic designers, photographers, and producers keep our school communities and City updated on district activities via City Schools TV (channel 77), the district website, and YouTube. From important news like enrollment, COVID testing, and interviews with district leaders to fun features like a chicken sandwich taste test, the Team has created more than 200 news segments since its inception five years ago. The eight team members visit schools, check-in at the district office, and explore Baltimore — all to develop PSAs, news segments, and fully produced, multi-segment television shows.  

The program has given voice and creative license to dozens of students who are building real-world connections and skills like writing, editing, camera work, and public speaking as they cover the stories they want in the ways they want. Guided by the district’s communications team, students are taught the basics of shooting, editing, writing scripts, and producing. In addition, the Team welcomes guest speakers and takes trips to local media outlets. 

And it’s having an impact. As Bryce Taylor, a Student Media Team alumni (Bard High School, 2020), chef, and current senior at Frostburg State University put it, “Just simply being on the Student Media Team is a gateway to so many opportunities that could and probably will change students’ lives. It’s an incredible experience.”

It’s a sense of exploratory creativity that makes the Student Media Team so impactful. One student, Bianca Spalding, a 12th-grade Media Team member from National Academy Foundation High School, was interested in photography but had never tried it until she joined the Team. Said Bianca, “Being on the Media Team helps me to open up to my own ideas. It helps me share what I think and prompts me to share what I feel. Being able to try photography and realize that I can do it has been great. I really like where I am right now.”

For Team member Ellie McGinley, a 10th-grader at Baltimore School for the Arts, the experience is helping her reach her goal of being a Broadway actress. “Being on the Student Media Team puts me in front of a camera, which is where I want to be. It’s a great opportunity to hone skills and do what you love doing.” 

Breonna Jones, a 9th-grader from Baltimore Design School agrees. “The Student Media Team is great. I’m learning the things that I was hoping to learn, such as new software, how to use a camera, and how to speak in front of one.” 

The impact of the Team experience sticks with students well beyond graduation. Since graduating from Frederick Douglass HIgh School, former Media Team member Xavier Plater has pursued a film/video degree from MICA while working full time in communications and video production for the Baltimore City Council. As Xavier says, “When it comes to an individual learning about themselves and finding their passions, they must be introduced to different resources. The Student Media Team introduces those resources, from photo and video to hosting and reporting to just being on set knowing how to behave. I was put into so many different roles on the Student Media Team and that has a huge impact on me to this day.” 

Bryce Taylor cites the lessons he learned on the Team as supporting his work as a chef and in completing his degree in Business Administration. “I have the Media Team to thank for so many of my strengths and skills that will help me for the rest of my career and life. Not only did the experience help me to blossom into the person I am today, but it gave me opportunities. I was able to report on the 21st Century school buildings and the choice fair, and I spoke with city leaders and rubbed elbows with decision makers.” 

One of Bryce’s favorite videos was the chicken sandwich taste test, a popular segment he produced, directed, and starred in. “I’m proud of it to this day,” said Bryce. “It showed me I was capable of doing a lot by myself and helped me build confidence.” 

To meet this year’s amazing Student Media Team, click here. Interested in learning more and tuning in to the Student Media Team’s coverage all year long? Bookmark this page! 

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