Agua Fria High School set out on a mission to simplify the work of their Athletic Director, Ryan Ridenour. Using an entirely new system, they managed to turn their athletic website into a form of electronic journalism. With the help of their Journalism teacher, Chris Morris, students completely run VNN platforms themselves.
As told to Erika Arora
We decided to change the game. We created a Journalism class specifically designed for updating our sports teams and spreading the word through social media. Everything is student produced. The students use social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook to connect the community to the players. We developed the plan so that we could spread our efforts across every event on campus, including student organizations, sports, and clubs. We shine light on those that have moved on to college and/or professional careers, as well as showcasing those that currently attend Agua Fria.
Each student or groups of students are assigned to different teams and departments, and together they work hard to knock out media for viewers. Students have their own professional Twitter accounts to promote articles and drive traffic to the website. Every article includes pictures and visual representations of the article to draw attention to our posts. We keep up-to-date with current athletes, as well as our alumni to ensure different kinds of content. Celebrating our athletes and their achievements is something we pride ourselves in.
The success we’ve gained through this system is completely due to our hard-working student body. We’ve tested out many strategies to see which ones work and which do not. Sending out three or four tweets about each new blog article helps drive viewers to our website by hitting them with information in the morning, afternoon, and evening. The students connect to the people that need to see it so they can spread the word to the community.
It’s student work and that’s what’s selling it. It’s done by their peers which makes it special. The kids feel like they are a part of the school even more, and it offers a sense of accomplishment when they see who read their articles.
Students love it and want to take the Journalism class. We have noticed students going to their advisors asking to get into the class the following semester. When this year’s seniors graduate, we don’t think it will be a problem filling their shoes because of the high demand we are currently seeing to help with our athletic department. Expanding on this idea, we have brainstormed a plan to separate tasks with year levels. Freshman could be in charge of Twitter posts, while Seniors would create the actual article content.
As the AD, I see these students glowing all over campus because people are reading what they have written. Seeing the student’s success is what drives this program forward.
Have a journalism class at your school and think a VNN athletics website might be a great way to get them engaged in real-life sports reporting? Schedule a demo with us at the link below – we’d love to make your school part of the network.