Realizations in Athens


Jake Hall, Writer, Assistant Editor

Any field trip is a good field trip. But some are better than others. Much better in fact. Last Tuesday the 11th, members of Cartersville High School’s SkillsUSA chapter had an opportunity to attend one of these ‘better’ field trips to UGA’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.  

Despite having to arrive at the Storm Center at a bleary-eyed 7am, a total of 18 students were on the bus. Contrary to what one would expect, there were no benches turned into beds and windows turned into pillows. The students’ gleeful talk ranged from spring break to prom to football, before turning to college and their future careers the closer they got to UGA.  

The students were welcomed off the bus by the always beautiful Athens weather, before making their way to the Grady College building. Sanford Stadium rose just above their heads, as the group was dazzled by the 40,000 students of UGA going about their business.  

The Grady College building is a welcome reprieve from the usual beige cinder blocks that make up the average schoolhouse. Pictures and plaques of esteemed faculty and students adorn the tastefully black and red hallways. Glass walled meeting rooms and vibrant windows give the impression of a groundbreaking office, not a college belonging to one of the oldest universities in the US.  

Students had a chance to use the restroom—but instead took the time to snap photos and selfies next to a blown-up Bulldawg before being introduced to Stephanie Moreno, the college’s Scholastic Outreach Coordinator. She took the SkillsUSA group to a conference room looking over a sunny plaza, which college students in short-shorts and baseball caps criss-crossed.  

The Cartersville students were entreated to a presentation on Grady College and the litany of majors offered such as Journalism and Advertising. Students also learned about inter-degree certificates like the News Literacy certificate and the Strategic Health and Risk Communications certificate. Three current students of the college came and spoke about their own experience at Grady College and how their love for journalism and communications was fostered in school, while also answering questions about UGA and university in general. However, not everything discussed during this presentation was about college. Ms. Moreno also manages the school’s Summer Media Academy, a camp held at UGA in June for high school students interested in communications. 

After more selfies and complimentary candy, the CHS students were taken on a tour—the highlight of which was the NewSource production room. NewSource is a student-run show airing Monday and Wednesday at 5pm. The Cartersville students got to inspect the professional camera setup at Grady, a far cry from the camcorders they are used to, and even got to gallivant in front of greenscreens. The CHS group then watched undergraduates plan an upcoming show at a writer’s table. The students continued excitedly through the college, as they were lead past control panels and under studio lights. Being in the presence of tech requiring an almost mystical budget prompted students to begin chirping with ideas. Mockumentary series were outlined, elaborate costumes were sketched out in the air, and experimental screenplays began in Google Keep. 

Before long however, the group was brought back into the Athens sunshine and given an hour to kill on campus. Sanford stadium was rushed for pictures, and the students even witnessed a soon-to-be UGA graduate in cap and gown spraying champagne into the air for a photoshoot. The SkillsUSA members explored the Tate Center, getting to grab lunch and even meet CHS alumni currently enrolled at UGA. 

Despite the field trip only lasting about three hours, this Cartersville group of students left the University’s campus thoroughly inspired. After all, how could they not? The tour brought on the realization for many of them that things only get better after high school. As their school bus rolled back up I-75, these students considered how talented they were already and began to grasp that they really do have a chance of turning their Audio/Visual passion into a career.