By Jonathan Tsou
Every day, almost 2 billion individuals can quickly pick up electronic devices and can easily communicate with hundreds, if not thousands of people from around the world. In a recent study by Common Sense Media, a nonprofit focused on helping children, parents, and educators navigate the world of media and technology, it said that an average United States teen spends about nine hours using social media for their enjoyment daily. What if a school district can communicate vital information to students via social media?
Arcadia Unified School District’s Public Information Officer Ryan Foran is doing just that. Ryan Foran is a former anchor for CBS/FOX from Tucson, Arizona. Foran has a Bachelor’s of Arts in Broadcast Journalism and has been awarded both as a news reporter and a communications professional. He has also taught a multimedia journalism course at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. In a statement regarding the use of social media in Arcadia Unified School District, Ryan Foran said that “social media is an essential tool for our communication outreach plan,” social media provides “latest news and information related to our schools and district.”
Foran has formed a Digital Communications internship program that allows students from Arcadia High School who have an interest in advanced communications and journalism to get involved. Members can help Arcadia Unified School District create a stronger presence on social media pages, such as Facebook, Twitter, Weibo, and Instagram. Each student goes through a rigid interview panel and a probationary period before becoming an official intern. The students are held accountable to a high standard that represent the school district. The program is similar to an Advanced Placement Course (AP) as it not only teaches each student communication techniques, but it helps prepare them for college and beyond.
Travis Chen, one of the first members, said that the program has provided him “endless opportunities in journalism, photography, cinematography, communications, interview, and so much more.” Members of the group, often called, “minions,” must have a passion for working collaboratively with others in a team setting and must be eager to learn.
Although the group has weekly meetings where they discuss future projects, review past projects, and attend lectures, it is more of a freelance group. Students must be willing to work independently on their own time.
In a recent interview with Chris Robin, members Melaine Mak and Chris Chen both stressed that the program has helped them find a passion in communications and discover the importance for a school district to create a strong relationship with their students and parents. They also have both learned several life lessons and life skills regarding their future and their future careers.
Currently, the internship program has 15 digital journalists who cover news from around the district. Members can learn how to write news stories, produce videos, create promotional materials, and help organize and publicize district events. Applications for next semester will be open until Dec. 28, 2015. The application can be found on the AUSD Communications and Public Information page.
When asked about the goal of the program, Ryan Foran said that he wants this program to become “the best high school internship program in the country.”