Katherine Walsh Ryan

Katherine Walsh Ryan is teaching a new broadcasting class at Washington High and hopes to connect with the Walter Cronkites of the 21st century.

CHARLES TOWN – Students interested in the news can put their curiosity into action in a new broadcast journalism class in Washington High’s updated studio.

The class is seeking more students and is open to all Jefferson County students ages 12 to 18, as well as home schoolers.

High schoolers can get credit toward graduation. The class is held from 3 to 5 p.m. every Monday and Wednesday.

“Even adults might want to give the class a try,” said teacher Katherine Walsh Ryan, the former head of the Ryan Film Institute in Shepherdstown. “Right now I have about nine students. The class didn’t begin until after school had already started so some students have other commitments.”

For high schoolers, registered students will have the opportunity to be entered in a student scholarship contest to attend the Journalism Education Association’s National High School Journalism Convention in Anaheim, Calif., in April. The conference highlights award-winning youth projects.

Ryan is seeking students who have an interest in classic journalism, the kind made famous by people like Walter Cronkite.

“Facts, truth and ethics should all be a part of it,” Ryan said. “Many famous people in the broadcast business years ago all had a background in print. Even in broadcast journalism, you have to know how to write.”

The high school’s studio is set up like a television studio with a teleprompter, cameras and lighting. Students receive training on how to cover events. Different performances at the district’s schools have already received coverage from Ryan’s class. She has even devised press passes for her students.

“I want students to always be ready and prepared even when it comes to filming things for their own families,” Ryan said. “Have your gear handy. A big thing in this business is good behavior, civility and a willingness to help the people you work with on the set. It’s not just about you, but you’re part of a team. Introduce yourself to the people you are filming, too.”

One of Ryan’s priorities is modernizing studio G120’s computer hardware and software, as well as studio equipment. The space for the studio existed when the high school was built in 2008, started being used in 2011 until Rob Perks, the studio’s teacher, retired last year.

Ryan’s other goal is preparing students for careers in broadcasting. “Our program is focused on job training, and building hands-on skills to reach career goals and achieve personal creative objectives,” Ryan said.

She also wants to teach modern journalistic techniques. Ryan is organizing live streams with broadcast journalists from here and abroad to discuss student interests.

She has also invited former Ryan Film Institute students and colleagues to appear as guest lecturers and hands-on teaching crew for the revamped program. Ryan said she welcomes this opportunity to share her knowledge and introduce students to professionals and former students who now work in the TV, video, and film industry throughout the United States.

Ryan taught at Shepherd University until RFI lost its funding when the Legislature ended the West Virginia Film Office and eliminated movie and TV production tax credits.

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