Students learn through experience classes

Alex Summerlin

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Sophomore Walker Brown prepares to capture his assignment in AV Tech. | photo paige staggs

Sophomore Walker Brown prepares to capture his assignment in AV Tech. | photo paige staggs

Ideas, arguments, sound effects and the occasional rolling chair remains a dull roar all around sophomores Ashlee Mays and Rhiannon Wineland as they sit at their desktops and begin to lay the ground work for their next film project, imagining ways to bring their next creation to life.

“It really is fun the way the class is set up. Mr. Paul makes it feel like we are doing a lot more than just class work,” said Mays, “It challenges me to be creative and come up with new things. That’s the best part of AV/Tech.”

James Paul, AV/Tech and Film teacher, pushes his students to create their own story through visual communication. AV/Tech and Film allows students to go through the steps of a production company, where students learn through their own personal experiences.

“In a lot of ways, I’m a project manager. I set the tone for how class will go and what different aspects of the production process need to be completed,” Paul said. “The students take the lead from there. They complete project plans, storyboards and scripts before they begin filming and then each group plans films and edits what they have written. I simply guide them through the process.”

The students break up into groups, create their own ideas and then bring them to life through a guided process. They then share them to the rest of the class and collect feedback from their peers. The student grade is based off quality and timeliness.

“We conduct business as if we were a production company.  Every student is paid for his or her work and productivity. They use the ‘money’ to buy equipment.  Eventually, they accumulate enough of this fake money into their accounts to invest in better equipment, more production crew and talent to hopefully create a video of better quality.  All of that is easily transferred into a letter grade as any typical class,” Paul said.

AV/Tech and Film allows students to express their individuality through their work and in the end have something to show for it. The videos the students create are displayed on the classes YouTube channel, Hornet Films.

“My favorite part about this class is the things we are creating did not exist before we started.  We aren’t stuck in a book recreating projects so many students have done before.  The originality and creativity is on high and I can truly gage progress on an individual student basis,” Paul said, “It’s such a cool thing that Bryant High School offers a class in AV/Tech that allows you to get a grade for being who you are.”

Jeremy Clay, introduction to drama and stage management teacher, shows students how to think in the theatrical field. Students that take these courses begin to hone the skills necessary for a career in theater production.

“Introduction to drama is a semester course teaching the rudiments of theater, acting and stage production. We may be practicing stage combat and the Irish accent or it might look like a writer’s workshop with students writing plays and collaborating on ideas,” Clay said. “My stage management class is focused on careers in theater production. All this is learned hands on for each of the productions we perform throughout the year.”

The drama classes allow students to express themselves and interact with their peers. Some of the students, like senior Cayla Christian, have even moved into the professional world of theater already.

“I’ve been in multiple productions at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre. Most recently I understudied two roles in the World Premier of ‘Because of Winn Dixie’ and got to meet many different Broadway actors, composers and musicians,” said Christian, “Now I’m working on a production for their annual ‘Saints and Sinners Ball.’ It’s always a great experience.”

Whether the students are memorizing monologues or creating elaborate, fake fight scenes, there is never a dull moment.

“The experiences my students have will be remembered for the rest of their lives. You may not remember the Gettysburg Address, but you will remember the shows and scenes you were a part of and the family created by that mutual experience,” Clay said.

The Honeybees, the show and competitive choir, holds the title for “Best in Class for 7A Female Ensembles” for the third consecutive year. Julie White, choir director, has directed the Honeybees for 10 years.

“The impressive thing about the Honeybees is that they are both a show choir and a competitive choir. They perform at various places all over the state, as well as being the opening act for many headline shows in Branson, MI, such as The Haygoods, the Showboat Branson Belle, the Dixie Stampede and the Twelve Irish Tenors,” White said.

This branch of the choir program is made up of a high-quality team of accomplished female vocalist that compete in and out of state, and a leadership team that organizes class rehearsals, choreography, goal-setting and achievement.

“This class is totally performance-based. Their textbook is their music; they are the leaders of the group and are responsible for their progress,” White said. “The students gather around the piano for warm-ups, then they sight-read, then they work on the pieces they are currently learning for upcoming performances and competitions. I get to see their progress and guide them as they become independent musicians.”

 

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