TV Studio Offers Hands-on Media Arts Education at Choffin

By Marah Morrison
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Students from Chaney and East high schools interested in pursuing a career in journalism can get a hands-on learning experience at the new television studio at Choffin Career and Technical Center.

Choffin students studying media arts and construction technology joined faculty members and members of the news media Wednesday during an open house showcasing the new $130,000 studio on the second floor of the school. The 360 degree studio features green screen walls, new cameras and teleprompters to prepare students for their careers. The investment was made possible through the Choffin Trust, said Mike Saville, principal.

“When people drive by [Choffin], they see four blank walls and it’s just not as evident to an outsider looking in. There’s so much going on, but it’s that way to bring that out and showcase great things happening,” he said.

The program allows students to learn skills they can take to different industries locally, Saville said. Last year, eight students enrolled in the media arts program with another 16 juniors coming in “on a promise” that the studio was coming, he said.

“Now that we have it created, we have a waiting list,” Saville said. “Each program will hold at least 20 and we’re on pace to have a full program.”

At the open house for Choffin’s TV studio and Media Arts program were (front, from left) seniors Kevin Jusino, Paris Riggins and India Smith, Cristen Manion, photojournalism instructor, (back, from left) Malique Fields, senior, Kevin Sinkele, construction technology instructor, seniors Marshall Herron and Reynaldo Torres Aquirre, Noah Daniels Wilder, videography and journalism instructor, and Principal Mike Saville.

The C-TV logo is displayed above the entrance to the circular space built to function as a legitimate TV studio. Camera equipment is positioned in multiple areas, allowing for different segments to be filmed simultaneously, like an actual TV newscast. The inner wall is painted green for green screen capabilities.

The goal for building the studio was to get students enthusiastic about what they’re studying, said Cristen Manion, photojournalism instructor.

“There’s a little bit more buy-in as opposed to if you walk into a classroom and there’s a green curtain hanging on the wall,” Manion said. “It gets students thinking about different ways they can use the technology and it gives us a space that we can put them into.”

Manion’s class is split into different sections: photojournalism and broadcast video production. Students learn the difference between writing for journalism and writing for advertising, as well as learning how to take photographs and video editing, she said.

In addition, students are able to learn screenwriting through short films from the new studio, Manion said. Students can now get hands-on with a variety of different cameras such as JVCs, Nikon D3500s, Nikon Z6s, as well as teleprompters and tripod, she said.

With the new studio space, students are not just sitting at desks doing writing assignments, Manion said. Now, they can be industry ready, she said.

Last year, media arts students didn’t have anything close to what they have now, said India Smith, a senior media arts student. It makes her feel proud to know where the program started and what it’s turned into, she said.

“We came a long way and now we got a studio like WKBN does,” Smith said. “We are very blessed to be able to have hands-on experience because a lot of people don’t have this experience.”

Smith is unsure of what she wants to do after she graduates, but she knows she wants to be in video production, she said.

Media arts seniors Kevin Jusino, India Smith and Paris Riggins inside Choffin’s TV studio.

In addition to creating a real-world setting for aspiring journalists, the studio project gave construction technology students at Choffin a chance to put what they’ve learned into practice. Led by Kevin Sinkele, construction technology instructor, seniors in the construction program designed and built the studio space in four months, Saville said.

One of the students on the build team was Reynaldo Torres Aquirre, who said he learned a lot of new things during the process of building the studio and enjoyed the way everyone worked together.

“We actually got it done in time,” he said with a laugh. “It felt good. They trusted us to build something for them.”

Students completed all of the drywall, paint, floor applications and the lighting, Saville said. They also learned how to lay out grids in the ceiling.

“They put a tremendous amount of effort into it, but learned a tremendous amount of skill based on the program, so we were able to have them create the space and then showcase what they’re able to do for this program,” Saville said.

Bringing the construction students in to create something that the media arts students can use to create their own TV show encourages the students to take ownership of what they’re doing, Saville said.

“One of the things we can work on in Youngstown is the buy-in and part of that is the ownership,” Manion said. “Sometimes the community thinks, ‘Oh, I’m just from Youngstown,’ so having the kids be able to take ownership of having a studio, having their own TV show from the construction kids being able to build this and say, ‘I had a hand in that.’ It gives them a sense of pride.”

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