Twenty South Florida high school students arrived at the University of Miami on July 6 for The Peace Sullivan/James Ansin High School Journalism and New Media Workshop, presented by the School of Communication. During the three-week workshop, students live on campus and hone their writing, editing, designing, and photography skills by working together to create a publication, video, and website focused on topics affecting South Florida youth. Led by UM and Florida International University faculty, the workshop also incorporates social media. Here, a high school student participates in a photography and video exercise on how to approach strangers for photographs.

The summer high school workshop is as old as the School of Communication at the University of Miami.

In its 30th year at UM, the program is primarily supported by the School of Communication and two local philanthropists committed to journalism and education. The workshop in 2009 adopted a new name: the Peace Sullivan/James Ansin High School Workshop in journalism and New Media, to reflect additional support of former wire service journalist Peace Sullivan and James Ansin, the general manager and owner of WSVN-Channel 7. The program also receives funding from the Dow Jones News Fund, along with small grants from a variety of local sources.

The Miami Herald, and the South Florida Sun Sentinel, and the Miami New Times also support the program. Both newspapers and the TV station host the students for a day in their newsrooms, always a hit with the students. The Herald also prints the newspaper for free.

In addition to their support for the program, Peace Sullivan and James Ansin also provide scholarship funds available to select participants who want to attend the UM School of Communication.

The program has grown tremendously over the past quarter century. It started out as a one-week program with students writing stories exclusively for a tabloid newspaper that was published at the end of the workshop.

In 2013, the program invited 20 high school students to the campus for three weeks. In addition to publishing a newspaper, the students also produced videos, photos and blogs that were posted on the workshop’s website. Over the years, various student participants have won top prizes for their work in video and photography from the Dow Jones News Fund, which funds dozens of similar high school workshops around the country. It was the first time that two students from the UM program won the coveted prizes the same year.

Professor Bruce Garrison was the original director of the program. He passed the baton to Professor Tsitsi Wakhisi, who passed it on Yves Colon, who led the program for the past three years. Rafael Lima, who teaches journalism at the School of Communication, led it for one year. Professor Sam Terilli from UM and Professor Fred Blevens from FIU currently lead the program.

During the three weeks of the program, the students live on campus and are supervised by adult counselors. They are encouraged to minimize contact with home, all in an effort to give them a sense of what university life is like and what to expect. They eat breakfast, lunch and dinner in the campus cafeteria. They attend classes in the School of Communication and use the labs in the school to layout the newspaper and produce their videos. They have access to some of the most advance cameras and computers to achieve professional results. The three weeks are capped by a luncheon where students invite their parents to witness the great work they did during the summer.