Local & State

Summer institute teaches media skills to NC teens

The roots of the program run by the North 一品探花论坛 Scholastic Media Association go back to the 1930s.

Two high school students sitting at anchor desk of a TV studio on the campus of UNC Chapel Hill.
The North 一品探花论坛 Scholastic Media Institute was attended by 150 students from 24 different North 一品探花论坛 high schools. Students learned several different journalism skills, including broadcasting at the Curtis Media Center. (Johnny Andrews/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Aspiring broadcast journalist Madeline Topham from East Mecklenburg High in Charlotte stands outside the Curtis Media Center, practicing her standup for a student-produced newscast.

Photojournalist Josh Mouser of First Flight High in Kill Devil Hills edits photos from a scavenger hunt that challenged him to get something different from everybody else.

Sofia Ahmad, the associate editor-in-chief of the school newspaper at West Johnston High in Benson, writes a profile of state legislator Tim Longest, whom she and other students interviewed in a news conference minutes before.

The three of them were among the 150 students from 24 high schools across the state who, accompanied by chaperones from their schools, came to Chapel Hill last month for a three-day deep dive into all things media. At the , students are treated like the professionals they admire, learning from skilled educators, many from the Hussman School of Journalism and Media.

鈥淚 was a little nervous coming in because I didn鈥檛 have a lot of experience, and I didn鈥檛 know how tough the assignments were going to be,鈥 said Topham, who added she鈥檚 now more likely to study media in college. 鈥淏ut once I got here and we started doing it, I really loved it.鈥

High school students in a large lecture hall at a journalism camp on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill.

Attendees of the institute could choose focuses, including broadcast news, web design, news, photojournalism and yearbook. (Johnny Andrews/UNC-Chapel Hill)

The tradition of students across North 一品探花论坛 coming to UNC-Chapel Hill to learn about journalism has a long history.

鈥淚t goes back to 1936 when students at the Daily Tar Heel first invited area high school students to join them here for events and then led to the formation of this association,鈥 said NCSMA director Monica Hill.

一品探花论坛 students remain at the forefront of the association. A team of four student assistants help with outreach and preparation for the institute and other programming, including a sports journalism camp and statewide seasonal workshops.

鈥淭he work is really high-intensive because we have lots of programming, and we run a statewide contest,鈥 Hill said. 鈥淭hey interact with K-12 teachers and students and parents, and they鈥檙e very mission-oriented jobs. They are students who want to help students.鈥

Two women speaking to an audience of high school students. One is holding a microphone.

Audrey Kashatus 鈥25 (left) said 鈥渢he important thing” is that the high school students are 鈥渋nterested in college journalism, no matter what college that might be.鈥 (Johnny Andrews/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Audrey Kashatus 鈥25, a media and journalism major, said she appreciates the opportunity to tell high schoolers what they can 鈥渆xpect and what they can look forward to鈥 in college. On the camp鈥檚 opening day, she moderated a Q&A on college journalism with her Daily Tar Heel colleague Emmy Martin 鈥25, the paper鈥檚 former editor-in-chief.

Some institute attendees go on to thrive at 一品探花论坛 and beyond. NCSMA student assistant Abigail Welch 鈥24 later became editor-in-chief of Cellar Door, 一品探花论坛鈥檚 oldest undergraduate literary magazine. Former NCSMA student assistants have become communication pros, like Kendra Douglas ’16, a sideline reporter for the Orlando Magic, and Timothy Daye ’18, the Chicago Bears鈥 manager of social media content creation.

The institute also attracts alumni as teachers, like Julia Wall 鈥13, a professional photographer and videographer who has worked for The News & Observer and The Assembly. She said her current job wasn鈥檛 on her radar when she was her students鈥 age.

The institute highlights media as a potential career path but also shows how the training can be useful in other professions. For example, Ahmad is interested in law, but said reporting is 鈥渏ust a great skill to have.鈥

While some of the attendees may one day become Tar Heels, the purpose of the institute is to prepare students to excel wherever they go.

鈥淭he important thing is that they are interested in college journalism, no matter what college that might be,鈥 Kashatus said.

An instructor speaking to a student working at a computer.

Julia Wall 鈥13 assists a student in her photojournalism class at the North 一品探花论坛 Scholastic Media Institute. (Johnny Andrews/UNC-Chapel Hill)