Could Students Lose Comm Arts in the Spring?

Two+of+the+news+anchors+reporting+in+the+Communications+Arts+class

Two of the news anchors reporting in the Communications Arts class

Eva Luzier , Staff Writer

The Communication Arts program at Stephen Decatur High School is a student favorite, but those students are slowly fading away. 

After several years of the program helping students and creating a fun environment, the roster is slowly starting to get smaller and smaller. Unfortunately, for the time being the spring semester of the 2022-2023 school year for the program does not have a class right now. This leaves many students upset with where their schedule currently is.

“I was definitely upset to not have Comm Arts on my schedule in the spring,” said junior Kylie Byrne. “It’s my senior year I want to be able to have a senior video and continue on with a higher level of the class.’’ She also said she already took Level One of the class and planned on continuing within the class over the next year. 

Without the communications program, the class of 2023 might not have a senior video at their graduation. It’s also possible that there might not be morning announcements by students for advertising clubs, organizations, or any after school activities.  

It’s also concerning to some on the teaching staff. 

“People that normally listen to get that information will be looking for that in other avenues. Where is it going to be?’’ said science teacher Nikki Billetdeaux about the absence of the morning announcements. “It will be a pain for sure.”

Sophomore Emery Shepard says she watches the morning announcements every day and is concerned with the impact of not having them will be on the students. 

“People like to know what’s happening, when the sports are, what’s for lunch, all of it,’’ she said. “I just feel like it’s going to be chaotic and bring much more confusion among the day with not knowing anything.’’ 

Comm Arts isn’t just morning announcements, though. The program has been at Decatur since the 1990s and has impacted many students through different grade levels and generations. 

Many have enjoyed the program so much that they retake the class a number of times. Any student who has the desire to go into broadcast journalism, simply loves film, or just wants an interactive class, this program is strongly recommend by those that have taken it. 

Jack Remmel, a 2019 graduate, was one of these students. He took the class three times throughout high school.

“I think that it gave kids an opportunity to explore a lot of creative options, as far as video productions, where they can learn the basics of filming, producing, and editing, but also have free reign on how they were going to learn it,” he said. 

By having a senior-heavy program, many might think the class is not available for underclassmen, and some might not even know where to go to try to get on the class roster. 

Katelynn King, a sophomore, has been the youngest student in her class this semester. She said she likes how everything is a group project and it teaches students how to work with others .

“I knew about the (morning) announcements part of things, but I didn’t know the other aspects of the class. After hearing about it, I didn’t even know how to get into the program, but I went to guidance and they switched me in,” she said. “I’m glad I found out about it, though. Definitely made me enjoy school a little bit more, plus Mr. Thompson is great!’’ 

Having an entirely new group of students to get to know and spend your time with you learn a lot of new things in many different fields. The class overall can set students up for success while teaching college-level material in an interactive way. 

Mikayla Denault is a 2020 graduate who ended up majoring in Broadcast Journalism at Northwestern University in Illinois. With the level of knowledge she learned from Comm Arts, the news director at her school started to personally mentor her after she showed advanced technique in reporting and creating news after her first news package in college. For this, Denault credited the Communication Arts program.   

“Before this class, I had no idea I was into all the tech things. (Mr.) Thompson introduced me to that side of myself,” said junior Brady Marshall. “There’s so many aspects to it. Anyone can find their niche in there. I like the tech side, but someone else might like the broadcasting side of it, and we all make a team out of that.”

Dj Thompson has been teaching this class for five years. He said he hopes to see the program stay alive for years to come. With a new studio coming to the program, he said seeing it start to dwindle is a disappointment, as he has worked extremely hard to make all of this happen.  

Thompson said his class offers a hands on experience that most students aren’t always able to participate in until college or beyond.

“I feel not only does the program help keep the student body and staff informed of what’s going on, it also provides an outlet for students that enjoy (not only) broadcast but also the art of TV and film, which is something we explore as students move up within the program,” he said.

Assistant principal Jennifer Garton agreed that Comm Arts “is so much deeper and so much more than the morning announcements.”

“It’s a fabulous program because kids get so involved with it,” she said. “I need a Comm Arts class for spring semester. That’s something this school needs.”