Forget periodic tables and solar systems, the Channel Seven Oaks program at Maples Collegiate prefers posters of Star Wars.
It’s what the teacher of the program, Marshall Mays, calls "the inspiration wall." It’s perhaps more appropriate than, say, a multiplication table, considering the program centres around media skills.
"They’re learning the technical aspects of using a camera, audio recording," he said. "We’ve also got a little bit of script development, story development, but more of our time is focused on actually getting out there and shooting."
(In all fairness, the program’s two studios are also postered with instructions on how to frame shots and other pedagogical placards.)
The program also aims to teach students about lighting shots, using microphones and creating digital graphics.
They do this in two studios connected by a hallway and a small computer room. The program is celebrating its 10th year, and over that time it has gathered quite a collection of gear.
Studio one and studio two each have a wall draped in green screen, over which the students can create digital environments. Computer monitors line the walls and bright lights hang overhead. The hallways has so many cables hanging in neatly wrapped loops that one may worry they’ve found themselves in the matrix. There are cameras, tripods, repurposed CPUs and every other bit and bob in a gearhead’s fever dream.
Mays, who helped develop the program with a now-retired colleague, said he wanted to create something modern and useful for the students.
"I always wanted to do a program that didn’t exist yet. What would I have wanted to have when I was in high school? Something like this was definitely it," said the teacher whose first career was in computer science.
It seems Mays wasn’t alone in that desire, because since Channel Seven Oaks launched in 2011, "the interest has been huge."
Anshika Sharma is now in her third year at Channel Seven Oaks. The grade 12 student beamed as she spoke about the program.
"I love it," she said. "It basically connects the school together. There are so many clubs at the school and the channel’s involved in everything."
That’s another of the program’s main selling points — it offers plenty of hands-on experience. Students film events for the school’s sports, theatre, dance, band and choir. They also put together short films, which are published on the channel’s website.
Each of those requires students to work together in a variety of roles in order to get the job done.
Sharma, for one, likes to take control.
"I really like directing the show from the back," she said. "That’s almost like telling everyone what to do and putting the entire broadcast together. So I really enjoy that."
Hailey Peebles prefers to be on-air herself.
"I like being able to be the interviewer… I get to talk to lots of people because I like socializing. I have no problem going up to people and asking them questions," said the grade 11 student, her words zipping out of her mouth in a rapid testament to her extroversion.
Channel Seven Oaks is a multi-year program for which students receive high school credits. According to Mays, about 65 per cent of students are female, which he said is a point of pride. Some former students have gone on to pursue careers in media production, Mays said.
Cody Sellar is the reporter/photographer for The Times. He is a lifelong Winnipegger. He is a journalist, writer, sleuth, sloth, reader of books and lover of terse biographies. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 204-697-7206.