High school journalists gain hands-on experience during Georgia Journalism Academy

LeiLani Clemmons of Camden County High School (Kingsland) was picked as the top student by teachers and peers at the 33rd annual Georgia Journalism Academy, held June 7-12 at the University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.

“Charming, involved and eager to learn, LeiLani is the epitome of a Georgia Journalism Academy student,” said Joe Dennis, director of diversity and high school outreach at the Grady College and co-director of the camp. “The goal of the camp is to motivate students like LeiLani and keep them engaged in journalism while taking their skill set to the next level.”

Clemmons was one of the 72 high school journalists who attended the Georgia Journalism Academy, a weeklong residential camp themed “Grady Games,” a spin-off of the popular Hunger Games trilogy. Students chose a core class: advertising, broadcasting, editorial writing, feature writing, photojournalism or sports writing. Students also obtained training in publication design, web design, public relations and staff leadership. The high school journalists gained about 30 hours of hands-on experience on a specific project in their area. Their final work is published on the Academy website, www.the13district.org.  

“One of the highlights of the year at Grady College, the journalism academy brings some of the brightest high school journalists in the country to our campus. It allows us to drop in on the future of journalism, and the future is bright,” said Charles Davis, dean of the Grady College. “The energy in the camp spreads throughout all of Grady College throughout the week, and the bright faces of the campers are a real shot in the arm of all of us awaiting another generation of Grady leaders, many of whom catch the fever during this memorable week.”

As a member of the photojournalism class, Clemmons had the chance to discover the campus and Athens, expanding her skills through the leadership of her teachers, Sue Myers Smith, a 2001 Grady College alumna, and Carolyn Crist, a 2010 graduate.

“LeiLani consistently volunteered to shoot anything and everything,” Smith said. “She was always interested in learning more about how to take great photos and how to edit photos to make them better.”

Clemmons is one of 20 students who participated the 2015 camp with financial assistance from CNN. Over the past 10 years, CNN has given more than $100,000 in grants to help students pay for the cost of tuition.

At the end of the camp, each teacher nominated his or her top students for the camp award, and then all the campers voted. In addition to Clemmons, this year’s top students were:

•   Paul Swinney of Cartersville High School (Cartersville), advertising;

•   Grace Pepple of Jensen Beach High School (Jensen Beach, Florida),
and Chloe Slafka of Eagles Landing Christian School (McDonough). broadcasting;

•   Jordan Meaker of Lambert High School (Suwanee)
and Megan Wahn of Pope High School (Marietta), editorial writing;

•   Katherine Shambaugh of North Cobb High School (Kennesaw), feature writing;

•   Emmett Schindler of North Cobb High School (Kennesaw), sports writing.

The Georgia Journalism Academy is a public service outreach of Grady College. For more information about the camp, visit www.georgiajournalismacademy.com.

Date: June 18, 2015
Author:  Mabel Tie, mtie17@athensacademy.org
Contact:  Joe Dennis, joedennis@uga.edu