CORAL GABLES, Fla. (July 17, 2015)—Within an hour of arriving on campus July 5, the students in this year’s Peace Sullivan/James Ansin High School Journalism and New Media Workshop settled on the issue that would consume them for the next three weeks: how climate change will affect South Florida.
Now more than half way through the residential summer program, many of the students are as passionate about educating their peers about the threat rising seas pose to their futures as they are about pursuing careers in journalism.
“Our research showed that by 2060 sea levels in South Florida could rise 3 to 6 feet, which will affect all of us profoundly,” said Dayany Sotolongo, an incoming senior at SLAM!, the Sports Leadership & Management Charter Middle/High School near Marlins Park in Miami. “I’ve learned more about climate change and the conservation efforts we can take part in to reverse it in these few days than I ever learned in school, and I’m really proud of that.”
Sotolongo is among the 20 students from Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties selected for this year’s highly competitive workshop, which enables students with a strong interest in journalism to live on campus and work with faculty and staff to produce a printed newspaper, Miami Montage, a website, and videos dedicated to a topic of interest to South Florida youth.
In past years, students have explored issues related to homeless and undocumented youth, but this year there was almost immediate consensus about the issue that could have the greatest impact on their futures.
“They were brainstorming about different topics that are relevant to youth in Florida, and climate change quickly emerged as the most relevant,’’ said workshop administrator Steve Pierre, who credits his own workshop experience seven years ago for fueling his passion for journalism and for his current job as a communications specialist in UM’s Department of Human Resources.
“I would not be where I am today without everything I learned during those three weeks,” Pierre said. “Thinking back on it now, I was shy. I had never conducted an interview. I was a decent writer, but I didn’t have much experience or practical skills. I had never even seen some of the equipment we used. I did more in those three weeks than I had done in my entire life.”
Now in its 32nd year, the workshop, which is sponsored in part by the James Ansin and the Ansin Family Foundation, WSVN-Channel 7, Peace Sullivan, the Dow Jones News Fund, the Miami New Times, the John T. Bills Scholarship in Journalism Fund at The Miami Foundation, and the Jeanne Bellamy Scholarship in Print Journalism Fund at the Miami Foundation, concludes Saturday with a celebratory luncheon where the students will share their work with their families.
But their opportunities are just beginning. In addition to gaining valuable skills, workshop participants also compete for internships at local newspapers, a $1,000 Dow Jones scholarship, and, through special funding from the Ansin Family Foundation, a four-year scholarship to the University of Miami.