Cody Hmelar

This past year of InFocus has been a staggering experience for me, as I focused my idea of what I would want to do in college and a possible future in broadcast journalism. Originally, InFocus was just a way to express my interest in film and photography.

What I did not realize is that it would also expand my skills in writing and collaboration. After taking this class, I want to explore a career pathway in journalism that specifically focuses on the multimedia aspects of a publication.

One of my main challenges this semester was trying to balance my workload while staying on top of packages for InFocus. At times, I would spend more time on InFocus than I would on other classes that I knew should have more of a priority. Despite that, my life would be completely different if I was not a part of Palo Alto High School’s broadcast program.

Paly journalism programs have made me a better writer. Since joining InFocus and producing, my average English grades have increased to the mid to high 90s. My essays have been improved by being able to write strong argument pieces without a lot of filler. I definitely have a passion for broadcast journalism and would like to pursue this in the future. Maybe not as my primary field of study but maybe as a minor.

Being a member of InFocus has been an influential aspect of the development of my high school self. In addition to my writing, my sense of morality and ethics have been vastly elevated.

This semester, I focused more on biographical video packages. My main goal was to explore the personal experiences of various aspects of culture at Paly.

The first package I made was a two-part story on Esther Wojcicki, one of the advisers for The Campanile who helped kickstart the Paly journalism program into what it is today.

After this, I wanted to explore some other passions of mine. I did a piece on the varsity dance team and what goes on into preparing for competition because most students at our school do not know how much work goes into being a part of the team. A challenge I faced with this was not being able to work with my partner to edit this story or film interviews.

I ended up conducting additional interviews over Zoom due to shelter-in-place orders. From this, I was able to learn how to conduct remote interviews and edit in a more documentary style that was engaging to viewers.

During the shelter-in-place, I feel as though I have been producing my best work. Because of the limitations I have, I have been forced to get creative in my style of interviews and editing. I did a piece on how student photographers were able to work on their craft during the shelter-in-place. I also interviewed Paly students who created a fashion brand to support non-profit causes during the quarantine.

I also attempted to make some packages that didn’t include interviews. My first attempt was to rank obscure music submitted from community members. This was not successful, as I do not feel as though I am an interesting person to watch on camera. I also made a movie review on a new release and was able to publish it within three days of it being released. 

I appreciate my ability to be a part of Paly’s InFocus broadcast program and the access we have to such great resources. This year, I took on the role of a mentor by helping other members with basic tech skills as well as helping edit various packages.

At the end of this year, I was appointed one of the executive producers for next year. I aim to work on finding a greater balance between serious and light-hearted stories in the next year, as well as help create more team-bonding experiences. I am excited for a new challenge and look forward to the ways that broadcast journalism will continue to influence my life.

This feature was about the designing and opening of our school's Blackbox Theatre. When filmed, the Theatre Department was producing the first show in this facility.

As part of a social media tradition, artists of Instagram take on new drawing prompts every day in October.

In a two-part series, I interviewed Esther Wojcicki, a staff member who spearheaded and evolved our school's journalism program into what it is today. In it, she shares the history of the program and reflects during her retiring year.

Paly has a national title-winning dance team that many students do not know of other than their halftime performances. I looked into the performances and competitions they do outside of sports games.

During the Santa Clara County shelter-in-place orders, photographers from around the Bay are finding ways to continue their art.

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