Daily Herald
Gifted academy to open in S. Elgin High
By Kerry Lester | Daily Herald Staff
Published: 12/27/2007 12:02 AM

Elgin Area School District U-46 school board members recently heard the scoop on the newest of the district's gifted high school academies.

BEACON, an acronym for Broadcast Education and Communication Networks, will open next August at South Elgin High School.

Principal Jean Bowen estimates that 50 teens will be accepted into the program. About 46 students had been interviewed by mid-December, Bowen said.

Curriculum includes mobile broadcasting, directing, media ethics and theory, broadcast journalism and Web design, Bowen said.

An ESPN-like television studio will be completed by students as part of their course of study.

According to Bowen, the academy will focus on preparing students for placement into journalism programs at two and four-year colleges, and hopes to prepare students who wish to go straight into media jobs after high school graduation.

"While we hope to push students into a four-year college media program, we realize not everyone's ready," she said.

Teachers, Bowen said, will have to be "out of industry"--former media and Web design professionals.

"We must have an aggressive professional growth program that encourages staff to continue to develop technical expertise," she said.

She also stressed to board members that up-to-date equipment was critical for the program's success.

Bowen now is in the process of visiting local journalism schools, like Columbia College Chicago and Chicago's Flashpoint Academy.

BEACON will join the district's five other academies: Bartlett High School's Science, Engineering and High Technology Academy; Elgin High School's Gifted and Talented Academy; Larkin High School's Visual and Performing Arts Academy; and Streamwood High School's World Languages and International Studies Academy.