PATH TO COLLEGE & CAREER: Heron School video production program

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(One in a series of stories looking at NUSD college and career preparation, starting in early grades.)

Don’t just tell me, show me. 

Video images are becoming as much a part of 21st century life as laptops and cellular telephones, perhaps, used for everything from real estate ads to wedding photography to marketing pitches and college admission applications. You Tube alone attracts more than 30 million visitors per day.

 Heron School embraces this societal trend toward images, not just words, by offering a video production program preparing students for college and career by teaching valuable technical skills in story planning, recording, camera angles, sound, voice-overs, intros, outros and other editing skills.

 Heron’s good thing is about to get a whole lot better. Video classes currently are held in a traditional classroom, but a new wing about to open at the K-8 school includes a live video production studio with quality lighting, backgrounds, microphones, teleprompters, editing and other equipment.

The new studio will expand student opportunities and make it faster to produce “The Heron Show,” a student-created, school-focused video production which currently airs every two weeks and could expand to weekly. Someday, perhaps, the show could be broadcast live in the new facility.

Many of Heron’s students graduate from 8th grade into Inderkum High, which offers additional opportunities in video production through a Broadcast and Media Arts pathway led by former TV newscaster Melissa May.

Heron teacher Charles King offers beginning and advanced video production classes to 7th– and 8th-graders. He spends one period a day exposing other classes to video, and he supervises an after-school video production club for 4th-6th-graders who learn the basics and record “Heron Show” segments.

In addition to technical skills, King said, video students practice planning, writing, storytelling, collaborating, thinking outside the box, and deadline-meeting skills that can benefit them forever. “The biggest thing they’re getting here for college is following through to a finished product,” he said.

Last year, two of Heron’s video production students, Carley Lewitz and Leanne Dionisio won awards for public service announcements entered in a regional competition spearheaded by the Sacramento Educational Cable Consortium.

Interviewed randomly, Heron video students gave the class high marks.

Kailee, 13, said she enjoys watching movies and You Tube videos, so Heron’s class was a great fit for her. “It just seemed so cool to create my own,” she said.

Jared, 13, said he has not yet chosen a career, but he’s considering videography.

Jonathan, 12, said he took Heron’s video production class because he likes technology, likes making videos for the school, and “all my friends are in this class, so it’s really fun.” Would he advise others to enroll? “If you really like technology, I would recommend it a lot,” he said.