The Davis High School journalism program, headed by Allison Messenger, English teacher, has seen national attention recently. The Aviator Online is a group of students, led by Allison Messenger, that was recently accepted into the nationally acclaimed, PBS Student Reporting Labs program sponsored by PBS. The program offers real world insights and opportunities for high school journalism programs to report on real world issues submitted each quarter. This past quarter, the topic was immigration. A touchy topic for adults, let alone 10th-12 grade students. Allison discussed this quandary with Davis High School Principal, Tom Colwell. Together, they decided they wanted the students to have this wonderful experience, but were not sure how to approach such a touchy subject. Together, they decided to have the students interview Gabriel Tellez, Assistant Principal at Drew Academy. Tellez was an immigrant and was a great subject for the story the students wanted to tell.
Two student groups worked on separate stories, engaging in writing, collaboration, videography, sound production, and video production to create “packages”. According to Messenger, Davis received notice of their inclusion in the SRB program late in the story production cycle and rushed to get the story completed. Most schools have 7-10 weeks to work on their story. Messenger said the Davis students had a little less than 3 weeks to complete their package and polish it for submission. The stories were to be submitted to PBS for review and potential inclusion on their SRL (student reporting labs) website the the last day before Christmas vacation was set to start. The students met the deadline with only hours to spare going into Christmas vacation. Of the 160 schools who are part of the student reporting labs, 2 of 9 schools to be included on their website were the Davis High School stories.
“Inclusion in the student report labs program has allowed our students to be included in national level opportunities” said Messenger. The Davis program is being actively supported by Capella Tucker, content manager at the local PBS station here in Houston. Tucker has been to the school and is involved in the Aviator Student Media advisory council. In addition, she has had members of her team help critique student work providing wonderful feedback to the students. Real world experiences like these help students identify and learn real world skills, preparing them to enter post high school experiences better prepared.