When Gena Asher, a staff member at Indiana University, told the this week’s public relations team that the High School Journalism Institute was a good time to “get wet”, she had no idea how literal that statement would be.
After yesterday’s beginning festivities and the excitement of arriving on campus-- not many people paused to take a look at the dark and ominous clouds forming above them. Unfortunately, when students woke up this morning, they weren’t greeted by sunshine pouring through their windows, but rather rain pouring from those same clouds onto the now shiny sidewalks. In fact, it was raining so hard that some students considered the idea that classes were canceled for the day.
“When I first looked out the window this morning my first thought was: ‘My hair is going to get wet’,” said Ashlyn Foster. “I didn't think I was going to make it to the Ernie Pyle building without getting wet, and now here I am dripping on the floor.”
Multimedia student Ashlyn Foster enjoys a laugh with a fellow student. As part of her class, Foster was able to test out some multimedia equipment.
Although classes and sessions today were not canceled, some advisors had to constantly check outside because the expensive equipment needed for some of the outdoor activities could not be used if it was raining.
“At one point, an advisor had the students use their cell phones instead of professional cameras,” said lab assistant Gabby McLemore. “Even then, the advisor told them to be careful about cars splashing water on them and ruining their phones, because the same thing had happened to him.”
Of course, when Gena Asher mentioned “getting wet”, she wasn’t referring to students having to run into the rain to find a story.
“This is a good place to try new things. Get on the boat, paddle with your teammates, and if you fall out your teammates and instructors with throw you a life preserver,” said Gena, explaining how “getting wet” is a metaphor for making a mistake. “Everybody comes with a specific set of skills, and while it is important to improve those skills this is also supposed to be a week where you can interact with instructors and other campers and learn new things from them.”
Working with Jackson Mahuron, Clancy Lyles takes notes. As part of the yearbook class, Lyles and Mahuron brainstorm ideas to incorporate in their upcoming yearbook.
Today, the rain forced the campers to do just that. Since the equipment could not get caught in the rain, one student and her journalism team resorted to thinking outside of the box in order to complete their assignment.
“This morning I wore a trash bag over my head as I was walking to Ernie Pyle to protect myself from the rain,” said senior Jennifer Losch, holding up a crumpled, wet piece of plastic as she said so. “I wasn’t sure if we were going to be able to film because our assignment was outside and we were working with expensive equipment. However, I put a hole in my trash bag, stuck the lens out of the hole, and we were able to film.”
While the students do have assignments, these assignments are a bit more flexible than the homework that is typically assigned at school. This helps the students to focus more on learning than on meeting deadlines.
“In school you do learn, but you have to worry about homework and these deadlines. The experiences you have here allow you to try on new things and not be too concerned about deadlines,” said Gena. “When you fall out of the boat your instructors and your colleagues will always haul you back in.”
Yearbook students discuss future yearbook designs with advisor Jannet McKinney. McKinney has the students complete a portfolio of designs and ideas for their yearbook to take back to their school.
So this week, as the students learn and explore, they shouldn't be afraid to take chances, try new things and a get a little “wet” in the process.
“If you don't get wet, then you probably didn’t take full advantage of this experience…So give it whirl! Fall out of the boat!” said Gena wrapping up her metaphor. “If you get out there and get literally wet that is okay too!”
story by Madison Smalstig