News from the Field: Thornton Fractional High School Stars Shine Bright

Cover Image for Truestar Magazine

Ask teenagers what they value most and opportunities for creative self-expression and developing job skills will likely be on the list. Last spring, students in the Thornton Fractional North and Thornton Fractional South High Schools participated in journalism and photography programs that enabled them to do both. Located in Calumet City and Lansing respectively, the programs are part of the Thornton Fractional High School District 215 21st CCLC program.

The afterschool worked collaboratively with the True Star Foundation, a Chicago-based nonprofit organization that provides youth with opportunities for self-expression through the development of photography and journalism skills. Students attended a series of foundational workshops where they learned the basics of photography and journalism from industry practitioners. In addition to learning new skills from experts, they were able to make professional contacts. Participants gained real-world experience by interviewing and photographing professional musicians, television personalities, and Chicagoland students who were recognized for their excellence in sports and academics. They also toured production studios at True Star and WGN and the Chicago Tribune. They were even featured on a WGN morning broadcast. During the tours, students were able to speak with writers, production assistants, photographers, and other staff to find out about their different responsibilities, what steps they took to attain skills and get their current jobs, and internships in the Chicagoland area.

To join the program, students had to submit a writing sample and participate in an interview. The 21st CCLC team felt that the exploration of photography and journalism skills offered a creative way for students to stay engaged in subjects like English, technology, and the arts. We also observed timid students coming out of their shells as they participated in the program, becoming more comfortable as photographers and journalists. The entire school community was thrilled that many of the students who participated in the True Star program were featured in the spring/summer edition of the True Star magazine as contributing writers, photographers, and models. The magazine is available online.