Westminster College Offbeat final exams let students spread holiday cheer

Staff report

New wilmington, pa.

Westminster College broadcast and digital communications students from the video production and capstone courses participated in nontraditional final exams in December and spread Christmas cheer to residents at the Shenango Home and the Overlook Clinic.

“Instead of a traditional exam during finals period, I wanted to do something that would help students burn off some nervous energy from all the papers and studying during the week. I also wanted to connect it to the outcomes in the courses related to the themes of digital media, teamwork and creating content/messages for a target audience,” said Brad Weaver, communications studies lecturer.

He enlisted the help of Seth Morrow, director of Titan Traverse, Westminster College’s Adventure Education and Leadership Development program. The program includes a rope course, trust building and problem-solving activities and a variety of wilderness-based adventure activities.

“I hoped to broaden the students’ perspective of community,” Morrow said. “Many students view their community as simply the organizations and friendships they have on campus. I wanted to provide a way for them to experience their neighbors right next door to the college.”

Morrow created an event similar to the “Amazing Race” television show where students raced in teams of three on a scavenger hunt across New Wilmington.

They rushed to locations such as the Christian Missionary Alliance Church where the local minister gave the students clues and supplies. They also completed tasks like shooting a play-by-play video of a team member climbing the rock wall at the field house.

The final clue sent the video- production students to the Shenango Home and the capstone students to the Overlook Clinic, where they filled out Christmas cards for residents with holiday wishes from the staff and crew of the Westminster Cable Network (WCN). One hundred cards were delivered to the Shenango Home and 200 to the Overlook Clinic.

“This was so much fun, and we had a little competition that connected back to our video- production roots,” said senior Kaitlin Roth of Clarion. “The twist here at the end was a great idea. Writing out Christmas cards and delivering them makes it even better. It’s nice to reach out and be part of the bigger community.”

The video-production course provides an introduction to the fundamentals of television production. Students obtain experiences in camera operation, audio, lighting, and editing procedures in correlated laboratory sessions. Participating in television productions is also required.

The broadcast and digital communications capstone course requires the student to research and produce a documentary linked to service-learning goals established at the college.

The course is split into two semesters. The first semester focuses on the research and production of the projects. The second semester engages students in the production, post-production and presentation and assessment of the documentaries.

“I’m so happy to be doing this. I know the people at the Overlook will appreciate our Christmas wishes,” said senior Courtney Crown of Coshocton, Ohio. “This really connects back to the service-learning component of our capstone projects.”

Anthony Thomas, a sophomore from New Castle, agreed.

“It puts you in the holiday spirit to know something you did will make someone smile,” he said. “This is the kind of exam you will remember and grounds you to know how little things have an impact.”

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