School of the Week: Communication and Media Arts High School

Derrious Hunter, a 12th grade student at Communication and Media Arts High School, may one day grace the airwaves of your local radio station. The seemingly shy 17-year-old gets a boost of confidence each time he places those distinct black headphones over his ears and turns on the radio equipment inside of CMA’s broadcast studio.

Then again, Hunter may become a veterinarian. It’s a career field that’s always piqued his interest.

“I still have a little time to figure it out,” he said. “But whichever one I choose, I know I’ll be good at it.”

This is the advantage that CMA students have over others in the area: options.

Exposing her roughly 600 students to college preparatory and career track programs— even those outside of the communication and media arts sector—is something Principal Donya Odom said makes CMA stand out from competing high schools.

“We cater to the interests of our students to offer specific programs to ensure they’re ready for college when they walk out of those doors,” Odom said. “This is a college preparatory school. Starting in 9th grade, we work with our students to plan for college and beyond. If you want your kid to come to a competitive school that has an outstanding attendance rate, graduation rate and a four-year scholarship opportunity, CMA is your school.”

New Radio and Television Broadcast CTE Program

Hunter is among a group of students at CMA taking part in a pilot program to launch the new Radio and Television Broadcast CTE (Career Technical Education) Program in the fall of 2014.

The pilot launched in 2013 with 11th and 12th graders offering all components of radio and television broadcasting, such as on-air anchoring and hosting, production, script writing and editing. The program also offers a social media component, web-page design/management and more. And students are not just taught these concepts in the classroom. They are putting their training into action by maintaining the school’s webpage and social media sites, and providing daily announcements.

Once the program officially launches in the fall, CMA will have an internet-based radio and television show that airs directly from the school weekly.

“We live in such a visually-stimulating society. Kids want to learn how to make careers out of what’s exciting to them,” Odom said. “This gives them an opportunity to learn how to master radio and television broadcast skills and how to utilize social media the right way.”

Kennedi Brown-Hammonds is a member of the Radio and Television Broadcast crew at CMA. Brown-Hammonds enjoys the behind-the-scenes work of video production, but plans to study Radiation Oncology at Oakland University in the fall.

Although production is not her No. 1 career choice, senior Brown-Hammonds said the program has helped with her confidence level, speaking skills, and “it’s just a lot of fun learning about different career options.”

Dominique Stigger, a senior at CMA, plans to become a radio host after college.

“This program is teaching me all of the skills I would need as a radio host. We select the songs, produce the show, write scripts. It’s a lot of fun,” she said.

When asked what she likes most about the school, Stigger replied: “It’s a small school, and that’s cool to me because it’s a safe environment. We also have a lot of programs that prepare me for college.”

“Demarco 34”

The first thing students see each morning upon entering the school building, and when they leave each afternoon, is a digital message board and traditional display case with information about college tours, financial aid, and ACT testing.

Along the walls in the 11th grade hallway, colorful, hand-cut paper stars are taped above each locker. In the center of each star is a name and a number. One reads “DeMarco 34.” Others showcase “Jasmine 21,” or “Breanna 22.”

The numbers represent the score each student plans to achieve on his or her ACT test. Each junior is required to participate. Students write the numbers on the stars then set a personal goal to either meet or exceed their predetermined test score.

“It’s a constant reminder that college is just around the corner, and you have to take this test to be prepared,” Odom said. “We even require all seniors to turn in college acceptance letters prior to graduating. You have to have a plan in place before you leave this building.”

Something you didn’t know

CMA offers a new DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America) Marketing course taught by instructor Renee Henderson on the concepts marketing, management, entrepreneurship, finance, hospitality, sales and customer service.

“The skills learned in this course can be used in any future career,” Henderson said. “There isn’t a job out there that doesn’t require marketing, customer service skills, or budgeting and finance. Even if you want to be a doctor, you have to understand how to market your practice. You have to know how to successfully interact with your customers. All of these things are relevant in any field.”

The class examined Detroit Public Schools 2013 “I’m In” Enrollment Campaign as a class project and concluded that appealing to the needs of the district’s customers (parents and students) was the driving force behind the campaign, Henderson said.

“A happy customer is a repeat customer, and a repeat customer turns into a profit,” she added. “They’re learning how to be conscious of these skill sets to be successful in life.”

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