YMAP Project: Pittsburgh University Prep at Milliones Civics Classes
During the fall 2010 semester, three of teacher Joel Graham’s ninth grade Civics: Be the Change classes at Pittsburgh University Prep at Milliones participated in the Youth Media Advocacy Project as a civic service-learning component of their civics course.
Three Carlow students from Carlow’s Youth Media Advocacy Course (CM/SWSL400) and the YMAP Director met with the high school students each week from October to December 2010. These Carlow student mentors’ majors are Corporate Communications/Business Management; Mass Media, Arts & Animation; and Communications for Advocacy.
U Prep students rehearsing their TV segment
The project began with the high school and college students discussing how advocacy is a type of community service, and learning about how collaboration helps to create change. Through classroom discussions and surveys of their parents, teachers and peers, the students went on to develop a list of significant education issues.
During this time, it was announced that the Pittsburgh Public Schools superintendent would be leaving. The U Prep civics students wrote Letters to the Editor describing what they’d like to see in the new superintendent (whose name had not yet been announced) and what priorities and policies the new superintendent should pursue. The students’ writing was informed by a visit from a local journalist. One of the students’ letters was published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, titled “Include students in the discussion of the Pittsburgh district’s direction.”
Through collaboration between YMAP and the Saturday Light Brigade, the U Prep students recorded their Letters to the Editor for the radio. These letters can be heard at Neighborhood Voices.
U Prep student at the camera on PCTV-21's set
The students also learned about media buying from a television representative and a billboard representative. They learned how to work a camera when Darlene Terry of PCTV-21 came to U Prep with her equipment. The students, their teacher and the Carlow student mentors worked on storyboarding segments for their TV talk show, dealing with their concerns and their ideas for solutions to problems:
- Pros and cons of the dress code
- Bullying and peer mentoring as a solution to reduce bullying
- Offering more hands-on practical courses at school (such as jewelry, home economics and robotics)
- Starting one or more “Pittsburgh Teen Zone(s)” at their school or other locations that provide afterschool and weekend activities for students so they can stay off the streets and out of trouble
The students recorded their talk show at PCTV-21’s studios. The students were delighted to be able to discuss their issues and ideas on camera with their school board representative, Thomas Sumpter. Their program is set to air on PCTV-21.
U Prep students in the control room at PCTV-21
The students also presented their project and a rough cut of their talk show to community leaders from business, education, government, foundations and the media; earning them a First Prize award at Civics Fair 2010 on December 10, 2010.
The students went on to develop a billboard to advertise their program. The main message on the billboard (which has become the title of their PCTV program) sums up what the U Prep students have taken away from their experiences:
“Change is possible" Billboard
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