March Profile: Photojournalism Project Helps Students Express Themselves

Now more than ever, the use of clear and moving images has become a cornerstone of how students express themselves. They use it to share their day to day activities with others and to process their experiences growing older in what can be a complicated, confusing world.

While students may take selfies with their phones, it is not often that they are placed behind the lens bringing a subject to light. With a grant from the Community Foundation’s Littler Fund, the Bella Romero Academy Photojournalism Project looked to change this. The school’s 7th and 8th graders were given the chance to deepen their experience with photography using formal instruction and practice during school athletic events, clubs and activities. Other classes gained access to digital cameras in classrooms on a daily basis as well.

Because of the Photojournalism Project, student-created photography has become the center of the yearbook, student newspaper, and a student publication, The Romero Times. In addition, students can now see their work every day on the school website, in a slideshow that plays throughout the building, and in community publications. Participants take pride in their work as their families and community members see it on a regular basis.  According to Jorge, class of 2020, “I love that when I look through the yearbook, I know that I had a part in it. I took these pictures, I made this happen.”

CFSGWC grant that funded the program: Littler Youth Fund

Amount of grant funds given to the program: $2,000

Funding dates:  The program was funded in October of 2015 and was administered from its funding date through May of the following year.

Program Structure: The program was administered through the school’s Electronic Publication’s elective course. In addition, cameras were also circulated throughout every 4th-8th grade classroom with the intent of allowing students to capture special moments for the yearbook.

Program Impact: Throughout the school year, 55 students participated in formal coursework and additional students and teachers used the cameras in classrooms.Program administrators believed that the greatest success was the moment when students took pride in their pictures, excited to show them off.  Students would demonstrate their use of photography techniques like the “rule of thirds”, and explain what made their work unique.  When they took a picture of a younger student in a science lab or playing a game in PE, they were proud of the creativity and personality they captured.