Students hone interview skills on Lynx players, coaches
By Charles Hallman
It can be a whirlwind experience for novices who attend such events as a pro or college team’s media day, where every player and coach is made available for interviews and photos. However, the 10 high school students from FAIR School Downtown (Minneapolis) who participated in the May 7 Minnesota Lynx annual media day seemed to operate more like seasoned professionals than one-day media members.
The student group greatly impressed team officials, says Lynx Account Manager Alex Damlo. He said this was the first time high school students participated in the event, which typically is for credentialed media only.
“We have been knocking on the doors of the Lynx for the past three years to get this type of experience,” admitted FAIR Principal Kevin Bennett.
The team is one of 22 active partnerships in the school’s community partnership program titled FAIR+. “We talked about doing some things in the past” with the school, says Damlo, adding that several FAIR students have previously participated in singing the National Anthem prior to a Lynx game. “We couldn’t be happier on how things turned out.”
Bennett heads both the FAIR middle school, which is located in Crystal, and, for the last four years, the downtown high school at South 10th Street and Hennepin. A middle school assistant principal in 2004, he was promoted to principal the following year.
One of his goals is to provide his students with outside-the-classroom experiences to help them in their career aspirations, Bennett told the MSR last week. “You have so many kids with so many dreams and so many ideas, but who’s grabbing their hand and saying, ‘Come here, this is what it takes’?
“If I have kids who want to cook, let me take you to a restaurant and get you in that kitchen,” said Bennett. “Or to a farm to see where that product comes from, so you can truly understand what your passion is [and see] what type of work and energy goes into actually becoming what you want to become.
“Most of the kids participate in media classes. All of them have a strong background in technology and communications,” explained Bennett as he and several school officials supervised the students at the Lynx’s training camp site. The students operated video cameras and other equipment as they conducted interviews with Lynx players and staff.
The MSR interviewed four of the students, all but one of whom said they could envision themselves being a media member one day. “I’m learning how to network with people,” said sophomore Jayla Jackson. “I’m glad our school got the opportunity to come here.”
“I was really nervous before this day,” admitted junior Tycen Rhodes. “Hopefully I can do something like this when I get older. I wouldn’t mind doing something like this for a living.”
Junior Tomijia Thames-Loyd declared her future goal was “to be a lawyer or a surgical doctor.”
“I’m interested in media,” said junior Anton Fobbs.
However, all the students noted that last week’s media day experience might not have taken place for them had they been students elsewhere. “FAIR School usually gives us more [practical out-of-classroom] opportunities…than other schools would,” said Fobbs.
“I’m concerned about test scores and things like that,” continued Bennett. “But when I think about high school students and careers in their future, I think they need real application and need to get out in the field.” If the students aspire to a career in journalism, “The best thing we can do is create those authentic experiences for them.
“I hope that they understand what it’s like to work day-to-day in this field. I hope they understand the skills and resources that they need to be able to pursue this type of field, to understand what type of coursework that they will need to take in college.”
“Doing something similar next year I think is very much on the table,” said Damlo. “I think [the FAIR students] proved their capability from respectfulness and a professional standpoint. I think they definitely will be invited to take the opportunity next year.”
“I’m pleased that they can be here today,” concluded Bennett of his students. “I see all of the media outlets…and our students are right here in the mix, covering the event at the same time. As far as I am concerned, that’s education.”
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.