Pamplin Media Group – Digital Media Program Discontinued at Sandy High

Teacher, students mourn loss, administrator prepares to offer engineering classes in fall

While many members of the Oregon Trail School District are excited about a new slate of engineering and sports medicine courses to be offered at Sandy High next fall, the news is bittersweet for many students and parents. since another CTE program – digital media – will be discontinued after this school year.

News of the digital media program came a few weeks ago around the same time the district announced it had received a $125,000 CTE Revitalization Grant. With these funds, the school administration plans to reallocate an area of ​​the campus to house an unmanned aerial systems classroom with a manufacturing and flight/mission control area and to purchase curriculum and equipment and materials to industry standards.

The Digital Media program has been offering courses in photography, audio and video production, graphic design, cinematography and more for about five years now.

said director Sarah Dorn. “the number of students planning for the program” was one of the factors in the decision to scrap the program.

PHOTO COURTESY: PIONEER DIGITAL MEDIA CLUB - Jones and Schutt said attendance at Pioneer Digital Media Club meetings has dropped since the program was announced. “Unfortunately, considering all the programs we offer, this program, through no fault of the teacher – the teacher is fantastic – I think it was a difficult program for the kids at times,” Dorn added. “We definitely intend for some of these skills, obviously not all, to be taken over by our artistic production program.”

Courses to remember include graphic design one and two.

While district administrators, such as Kim Ball, director of secondary programs, are “excited to provide these additional CTE opportunities and experiences for students as they focus on their potential career path,” the teacher and students in the digital media program expressed disappointment. in his judgment.

Andrew Schaffer, who has been teaching in Sandy’s digital media program for four years now, admitted that enrollment in the program has been affected by the pandemic, as while teaching remotely, many of his classes were not possible.

However, he said he wished he had “time to rebuild” the program after returning to in-person teaching.

Currently, Schaffer class enrollments vary, with some classes accommodating seven students and others nearly full with 28.

“I’m really trying to show what we’re doing in these classes, to show the students that it wasn’t just about TikTok videos,” he explained, saying he had been working to relaunch the program last year.

While Dorn said she thinks “kids sometimes feel like the skills they’re being taught are skills they can unfortunately learn on their own via TikTok or Snapchat,” students currently in the program have lamented the eventual loss of access to classes in video and audio production and more and wondered what would happen to the studio space originally built for digital media classes.

Spencer Jones, who identifies with the pronouns them/them, said he was happy that as a senior he benefited from four years of lessons taught by Schaffer, but feels bad for the younger students who will not have not the same opportunities.

Jones and their senior colleague, Henry Schutt, are the current presidents of the Pioneer Digital Media Club.

Both have taken a myriad of media courses while at Sandy and plan to study cinematography at the University of Oregon this fall.

“A lot of the experiences (that I got in the program), I feel like I can take my life back in the future,” Jones said.

Announcing the new drone engineering program at Sandy this fall, district officials said, “These courses will provide students with the opportunity to earn dual credit through Mount Hood Community College while gaining a broad knowledge, skills and practical experience that could lead to high-paying, high-demand occupations.”

“The decision was made at the school level, in consultation with the district office. We reviewed data from the Oregon Bureau of Labor Statistics that forecasts workforce needs,” Dorn said. to Sydney Glover of The Pioneer Press. “When we make decisions, we also look at the resources that have been invested and the number of students that are served. These decisions are always difficult, but my goal is to provide the most options for students at all levels. .”

Schaffer said he spoke with independent colleagues in his industry and they were surprised to learn of the school’s decision. Based on his own research, Schaffer noted that the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that salaries in the digital media industry are “above average.”

“It’s probably a hard thing to track because most people in my industry are freelance,” he added.

Katie Fisher, who graduated from Sandy last year and is now studying at Mt. Hood Community College, said her digital media training in Schaffer’s classes already helped her enter the industry after the high school.

Fisher now works as a writer at the Lincoln Project — a self-proclaimed pro-democracy political action group that is gaining notoriety — and she credits this career advancement to the skills she learned in Sandy’s digital media program.

“Having these classes really gave me an edge and a head start,” she explained. “We had to do a lot of projects that other students couldn’t do. We had to try all aspects of digital media. There are a lot of (potential job) opportunities in the program that Schaffer teaches.”

Fisher hopes to eventually transfer to a state university to further study digital media.

Jones and Schutt said attendance at Pioneer Digital Media Club meetings had dropped since the program was announced.

“People don’t seem to see the point of coming anymore,” Schutt said. “It’s heartbreaking. Now students aren’t taking these classes anymore. I’ve done a lot of stuff, but digital media is something I really love.”

Schaffer, a Sandy alum and digital media industry professional, is also disappointed.

“I think the things I teach…are beneficial in any career,” he explained. “I think any industry is going to benefit from people with digital media skills now.”

When asked if he was likely to stay at Sandy High if offered another job outside of digital media, Schaffer said “no.”

“My first passion is digital media,” he explained. “I love teaching these classes. It’s the best job I’ve ever had. Overall, my experience at Sandy’s has been great. Sarah Dorn is an incredibly supportive person, and I think she makes that which she thinks best.”

In fall 2022, students will have the choice of several new engineering courses, including Intro to Engineering: Robotics/Drones, Drone Engineering and Design, and Drone Mission Planning and Operations.

The Oregon Trail District administration has declared CTE a priority in the community. In 2020, 97% of seniors at Sandy High who completed a CTE program graduated. Existing CTE study programs include Agriculture, Art Production, Automotive Technology, Business, Computer Science, Engineering, Health Sciences, and Manufacturing.

Finding Professional Advisors

Sandy High admin is looking for volunteers to join advisory boards and work with the various CTE programs. Volunteers can choose which program advisory committee they wish to focus on and will be responsible for reviewing program results and aligning them with industry/workforce standards and requirements. The committees meet twice per school year.

Interested persons should contact Vice-Principal Maria O’Meara at This email address is protected from spam. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

You rely on us to stay informed and we rely on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.