South Florida high school students get expert training thanks to photography pilot program

Public invited to class and exhibit this weekend
Posted at 4:02 PM, Feb 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-24 16:36:49-05

A picture tells a thousand words. And now photography is giving high school students confidence and motivation.

The inspiration comes from a first of its kind program launched at Boca Raton Community High School.

Rob Sweeten has noticed one big difference in his students after he switched from teaching math to photography.

“Students have found a passion in photography,” he explained.

High school senior Christine Stephenson has that passion.

“It’s so cool how you can make a picture so much better by changing one thing,” said Stephenson.

She helped connect her school with the National Society of Arts and Letters. (NASL) The organization normally works with artists to launch their careers. Last year, it launched its first-ever high school photography project and chose Boca Raton High School as the first school.

The school has offered a photography class for ten years. Since the fall of 2015, it’s partnered with NASL. That allows experts in the field to meet with students and teach the students how to exhibit their artwork, plus enter it in competition.

“They have given me so many opportunities,” said senior Pierce Herrmann, who started his own photography business.

Sarah Weber found out photography really does run in her family.

“It enabled me to not only broaden my perspective in how I view the world, but also connect with my dad, grandmother and grandfather,” she explained.

Each story inspires the organization that made it possible

“Anything that you can do to take a young person, instill confidence and have them grow, that’s the greatest gift in the world,” said Alyce Erickson, the leader of the local NASL chapter.

This school year, three additional South Florida schools participate in the NASL pilot program. 

This weekend students from the four schools will meet with former New York Times photographer Fred Conrad. He will host a master class for the students at FAU’s Theatre Lab.

Sunday, the students will enter work in a juried competition.

Students will also exhibit their work at Florida Atlantic University until March 12. The public is invited to sit in on the master class for free. It begins at 9 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday.

Florida Atlantic University Theatre Lab, Parliament Hall, First Floor
777 Glades Road
Boca Raton, Fla.