At universities across the nation, Academy students spent their summers expanding their journalism knowledge, helping to bring new ideas to Achona. Traveling to places such as Boston, Gainesville, Central Pennsylvania, and St. Petersburg, aspiring journalism students completed courses, some lasting as long as two weeks.
In every summer program, students were able to learn about journalism in a hands-on way. Topics ranged from editing, photography, use of social media, and interviewing.
Senior Sarah Elliott stayed local and took a week long journalism course at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg. Elliott received an overall feel of the newspaper world and commented, “It was such an interesting experience to hear and learn from Tampa Bay Times reporters. It opened my eyes to the possibilities of story ideas and how to cover them.”
Traveling a bit farther to Boston, Massachusetts, seniors Elaine Petrarca and Mikela Mollanazar made their way to Boston University to complete the New England Investigative Research Program. The girls spent two weeks working with Boston correspondent and novelist Jan Brogan who led them in an investigative report on teens and dating violence. In order to complete the report, students conducted interviews and gathered research to inform the public of this growing problem.
Some students also attended a course at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Senior Gini Barreda focused her journalism course on editing. Barreda not only learned the skills of editing but also worked with communication speaker, novelist, and the well-known photographer John Freeman.
Cassidy Whitaker, another senior, took journalism courses not only at the University of Florida, but at Penn State University in Central Pennsylvania. Whitaker focused much of her studies on interviewing, story writing, and broadcast journalism. Whitaker said the most important advice for all journalists to remember is, “Report the truth.”
Achona journalists agree that the choice to spend part of their summer learning about their craft provided a lot of insight, ideas, and inspiration. Petrarca said she would not trade the experience for anything and the knowledge she gained was incredibly helpful. “Spending time [at the journalism program] taught me so much about completing work efficiently and in a professional way. Learning new and creative aspects of the journalism world gave me a lot of insight on all the ways we can advance Achona.”