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Journalism program builds skills, confidence in students

Two teen girls sitting behind news desk
A $2,000 grant for the BEAT Video Program is helping students become "backpack journalists."

The BEAT (Brunswick Educational Access Television) Video Program is a unique backpack journalism program run by an ambitious group of young people.

Backpack journalism is an emerging form of journalism that requires a journalist to be a reporter, photographer and videographer, as well as an editor and producer of stories. Supported in part by a grant from the Medina County Women's Endowment Fund, the BEAT program has about 40 student participants ranging from sixth through 12th grades. 

First-year participants attend classes every other Saturday led by Alexis Gemelas, a junior, and Jonathan Yokiel, a sophomore, to learn the basics of journalism. Gemelas and Yokiel, in their sixth and fourth years respectively, are the journalism managers who oversee the journalism aspect of the program. There are about 20 sixth- through eighth-graders who have all had to fill out an application and go through an interview process to be chosen to participate. 

Second-year students learn how to operate the equipment behind the scenes and how to conduct an interview on camera, alternating Saturdays in class. By the third year, they start applying what they have learned in the first two years. The technical aspects of the program are taught by Allison Rhoades, a senior who has been in the program for seven years and is the technical manager.

Allison is a very talented young lady who earned an internship with the Akron Rubber Ducks, where she worked in every aspect of the Creative Services Department, which directs the MLB broadcasts of the Ducks games. Allison is planning to continue her passion by studying video production in college. She is currently training fellow student Riley Haas to take over her position when she graduates. 

Students in the BEAT Video Program gain valuable experience by covering football games, school board meetings, basketball games, concerts and more. The students who take on these assignments, as well as the managers, get paid for their work and also gain useful work experience. In addition, they submit content to local publications such as the Medina Gazette, The Post and many other outlets, averaging about 250 articles a year that get published.

It is evident how much these students care about what they are creating through their work in the BEAT Video Program. Even if they may not pursue a career in journalism or video production, they will have gained many life-changing skills through this program, including assisting other schools in developing similar programs. 

These student journalists are an absolute delight, and they are grateful to MCWEF and the many businesses that support the program annually. BEAT is totally self-funded and receives no money from the school district or the broadcast of its content. Learn more at and watch their programming on Time Warner channel 22. 

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