Hopewell’s ‘Thunderhawk Studios’ Lets Students Run the Show

Hopewell’s ‘Thunderhawk Studios’ Lets Students Run the Show
Posted on 12/01/2017
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photo of Thunderhawk studios studentsA new after-school club at Hopewell Junior School called “Thunderhawk Studios” is empowering students to shape every aspect of their newfound group.

The obvious requirement is that they produce videos for the Hopewell community, but everything from the editing software and equipment to the content development and division of roles and responsibilities is up for student debate. According to Hopewell teacher and program advisor Mark Bauer, he intervenes very little on these types of decisions.

“It would definitely be much easier to just hand them the equipment and tell them what we’re going to cover each week, but I want it to be an experiment - something where they learn the technological aspects of filmmaking and just how difficult the process can be,” Bauer said. “It’s critically important that they take ownership. This is the inaugural group and I want them to be able to say ‘I built that’.”  

Even with so many early decisions to get the effort off the ground, the group has already produced a handful of videos, all of which have debuted to the student body during their advisory period. And with each debut, the group has grown in size. Starting with just four students at the beginning of the year, about a dozen are now involved in the weekly meetings.

Eighth-grader Wendy Reffner, whose involvement in Drama Club has prepared her well for roles in front of the camera, says she was surprised to learn that she likes the production process, too. With the help of her peers, she recently debuted the first segment in a series she’s titled “Reffner Reports.”

“I’ve learned a lot about working together,” Wendy said. “Everyone gets to influence the project and even though we might all be working on different things, we check in on each other. I think it’s amazing how all of us are getting to build it from the ground up.”

Hopewell Principal Jeff Rouff feels so strongly about the club’s purpose and potential to appeal to a wide range of students that he’s helping transform a section of the media center into the group’s studio. “They’re putting their stamp on that space too,” Rouff said. “It’s all about letting the students take the wheel and be part of the creation process.”