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Hands on experience: Chi-Hi media class mutually beneficial for students and school

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Preparing students for a post-graduation career is a must for any school, but a local high school is taking extra steps to enable its students to succeed in a competitive field.

CFHS Media (aka Cardinal TV) is a class at Chippewa Falls High School that is responsible for the visual branding and marketing of activities that take place at the high school level. This class gives students hands-on experience with the production of both print and digital media.

Beginning in 2020-21 due to heavy restrictions with outside media providers due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the class has evolved heavily over the past 18 months to offer unique opportunities for promotion and experience inside the Chi-Hi classroom.

“This class gives our school a promotional edge by being able to promote the offerings we have athletically and musically,” CFHS Media instructor Scott Sikkink said. “It also allows us to promote features happening inside our school to the average community member who doesn’t get to see what we do usually.

Within the curriculum of the CFHS Media course, the group of 15 students provide livestream services for athletic competitions, musical productions and various other events within the Chi-Hi walls. The all student run Cardinal TV programming also hosts in-person interviews in their studio space. The class prides itself on producing high quality content, similar to what you might find on mainstream media services.

Luke Short, technology coach for the Chippewa Falls Area Unified School District, said helping out with the class’ operations is a pleasure to do, as he has a front row seat to the valuable learning occurring during the course.

“This is such a great opportunity for the kids,” Short said. “We didn’t have opportunities like this when I was in high school, so I see this as a stepping stone for them and it allows them to get real world experience in the field. It is so much more valuable than just reading from a textbook. They’re actually applying what they’ve learned here.”

In addition to producing a variety of virtual content, CFHS Media also provides print media services to various departments at Chi-Hi. The students all contribute to designing senior posters, on-air graphics and anything else which will help supplement livestreams and media content they’re already providing.

Chi-Hi senior Gabe Vargas said being involved in a variety of different areas of media, including livestreaming and conducting interviews during sporting events, is an invaluable experience for him and his classmates.

“This is a great opportunity get involved and get experience in the media production field,” Vargas said. “It’s been getting better and better over time. After getting to do so many different things, I love doing it. It’s a great way to explore a potential career opportunity.”

Shaylee Ruzicka, a senior at Chi-Hi, said the class is a combined effort and even the inaugural class in 2020-21 is continuing to aid this year’s group in their efforts of all-around improvement. The majority of funds for new equipment for the course are made through the sale of advertisements during the class’ various livestreams.

“We couldn’t be doing what we’re doing without the class that started this last year,” Ruzicka said. “We didn’t have all of the new lights, cameras and other equipment until the last class made sure we would have it for this year. We want to continue to improve the class, and the production, so next year’s class will be even better than this one is.”

You can keep up to date with what the CFHS Media is up to through their YouTube channel Cardinal TV and on Instagram @cfhsmediaproductions.

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