LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION!
How Stephanie Russo has adjusted her classes during the ongoing pandemic.
February 6, 2021
Good Morning Chargers and welcome to another day of WRSN. For many Suncoast students, this is the well-known introduction to the daily student news show. The show is normally recorded in the studio inside TV Production teacher, Stephanie Russo classroom. During period five, the show is broadcast to students so they can stay up to date on school news, events and activities. Due to the global pandemic, the WRSN News along with Russo’s yearbook classes are looking quite different this year.
With 18 years of experience teaching at Suncoast, Russo thought she had seen it all until COVID-19 arrived and brought with it unique challenges for her Journalism and Yearbook classes. Dealing with the coronavirus meant that Russo had to figure out a way to produce a news show, and at the same time, collect content for the school’s award-winning yearbook all while a majority of her students continue to learn virtually.
”Initially, our main challenge was that not everyone had the equipment at home that we are used to using at school. Fortunately, we quickly realized that the one thing that everyone has in their hand, their cell phone, can pretty much create anything that we need,” Russo said.
Advancements in technology have helped make the transition from in-person to online learning smoother for students who are working to produce the news show and the yearbook.
As Russo noted, “Cell Phones and cameras have evolved so much over the last few years that students are able to use their own personal devices to record content, and they can even edit on their phones as well.”
When it comes to producing the WRSN News, Russo has given her advanced journalism students the task of creating a Google slideshow that is updated daily and emailed to teachers to show in their fifth-period classes. The Google slideshow features dates of upcoming club meetings, announcements about important events taking place and includes student’s birthdays.
In addition to the Google slideshow, once or twice a week, one group from Russo’s journalism classes also produce a news episode. Students in the group are assigned a show date and everyone must make a contribution to the episode, whether it’s writing the script, anchoring, creating a news package or editing. Although the students may not physically be together, they communicate with each other, work together and complete the episode on time. Russo is very proud of her students for quickly adapting to this new way of creating the show.
“I am amazed at the products that my students have been able to put together. They have had to learn to think outside of the box in order to complete their jobs. When left alone to create something, people surprise you, and I’ve been surprised a lot this year,” Russo said.
The second major project Russo’s classes are undertaking this year is producing Suncoast’s award-winning yearbook. While COVID-19 has forced many school events and activities to be canceled this year, the yearbook will continue to capture many of the key moments that are taking place on campus, including student life, academics, athletic events and select club activities.
“This year’s yearbook will include more feature stories about individuals and activities that are taking place outside of school as our students continue to deal with the challenges of the coronavirus,” Russo said.
One of the ways that the production of the yearbook will be different this year is in terms of how photography is being handled. In past years, most of the yearbook photography was done by the yearbook staff. This year, due to the challenges of coronavirus, Russo is asking students who are not on the yearbook staff to submit photos of events, activities, clubs and images that reflect their life during these unprecedented times.
“I’ve seen some amazing photos that our students have taken this year. I realize that sometimes students may be shy about submitting them to the yearbook, however, I would encourage everyone to take a chance and send us your best images, so that 50 years from now, we can all look back on 2020 and 2021 and see the memories of a one-of-a-kind year.” Russo said.
Many teachers have complimented Russo on her outstanding efforts to continue to create great WRSN episodes despite the many setbacks, as well as her determination to complete a top-notch yearbook.
Given the tremendous challenges, Russo deserves credit for instilling teamwork, cooperation and determination in her students which has enabled them to move forward with these important projects.
“I think that keeping people informed and entertained is one of the most important things that WRSN and yearbook do to keep the Suncoast community connected,” said Russo.
Thanks to the perseverance and determination of Russo and her students, the news and information at Suncoast High School continue to flow uninterrupted.