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ASU, Stardust equip high schools with newsrooms

July 23, 2008

Five Arizona high schools will get fully equipped multimedia newsrooms in time for fall classes as part of a new high school outreach program by the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the Stardust Foundation of Scottsdale.

The five schools are Buckeye Union High School, Coolidge High School, Douglas High School, Miami High School and Snowflake High School. The schools are the first to be chosen for the Stardust High School Journalism Program, a unique initiative to create newsrooms in high schools.

Five more Arizona high schools will join the program next year under a grant from the Scottsdale-based Stardust Foundation.

The grant targets schools with large minority populations that do not have school newspapers or viable journalism programs. Those are the schools that often don’t have the resources to publish school newspapers, said Cronkite Dean Christopher Callahan.

Under the program, the Cronkite School will equip newsrooms at each school with computers, scanners, video cameras, digital cameras and software necessary for publishing an online newspaper that can also be published as a print product. The Cronkite School staff will install the equipment and manage servers that host schools’ Web sites.

More than 100 students will take classes in multimedia reporting and producing this fall, learning skills such as writing, reporting, grammar, editing, page design, Web production, videography and photography as well as journalism ethics and values.

The Cronkite School will provide ongoing training and support for teachers and students in the program. The first group of teachers and advisers will participate in a converged media boot camp this summer at the new Cronkite building in downtown Phoenix, where they will get help developing journalism curricula and learn up-to-date technical skills.

High school administrators said the program will transform their schools’ journalism programs.

At Coolidge High School in Coolidge, about 45 minutes southeast of Phoenix, the school’s journalism program has been limited to a yearbook class. Under the Stardust program, Coolidge will add an introductory journalism class for sophomores and advanced classes in digital media, newspaper, yearbook and broadcast journalism, said Principal Keith Greer.

“We knew there was technology out there that we weren’t afforded because we’re a rural school,” Greer said. “This program enables us to compete at a much higher level.”

Stephen Truog, journalism adviser at Buckeye Union High School in Buckeye, Ariz., said The Hawk student newspaper had run into hard times. “We just started bringing the newspaper back at Buckeye, and this will be an exciting boost to our program,” he said in an e-mail interview. “And we’re thrilled at the opportunity to take The Hawk online.”

The Stardust program is run by Dave Cornelius, a longtime Valley educator who built the state’s premier high school broadcast education program at Arcadia High School in the Scottsdale Unified School District. He developed programs that have become models for teaching arts, audiovisual technology and communications at the secondary school level.

The Stardust Foundation is a nonprofit corporation founded by Jerry Bisgrove in 1993. Headquartered in Scottsdale, the foundation provides grants to organizations that impact the linked concepts of family and neighborhood stability.

“Stardust values the opportunity to expose more students to careers in journalism,” Bisgrove said. “The communication skills they will learn in this program will be useful to them, regardless of their chosen profession. In today’s fast-paced, information-driven world, effective communication is vital to achieving success in all facets of one’s life.”

Callahan said that getting more students involved in high school journalism programs will improve their writing and communication skills – and encourage them to graduate from high school and go on to college.

Five additional schools will be chosen for the program for the 2009-10 school year. Schools are chosen through a competitive process. Schools interested in participating in the Stardust program should contact Cornelius at or by calling (480) 338-1336.