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08-29-13: New camera club gets students focused on photography
08-29-13: New camera club gets students focused on photography
Posted on 08/29/2013

Students are offering a new perspective of day-to-day life at Mt. View Elementary School through the eye of a camera lens.


An after-school camera club designed to teach students beginning photography skills garnered so much interest in its first year that its adviser plans to offer the club again beginning this fall.


“I thought a camera club would be fun for students and give them a chance to explore a new creative ability,” said adviser Roxanne Higgins, a paraeducator (teaching assistant) at Mt. View Elementary.


What Higgins didn’t expect is for the club to become so popular so quickly.


Not long after word got out last fall about the new club for third through fifth graders, more than 40 students signed up, eager to become amateur photographers.Image


Higgins held separate club meetings for each of the grade levels for one hour after school on four consecutive Tuesdays. The meetings were held from October through May with up to 10 students in each four-week session.


“This was my first time taking pictures, and it’s easy!” boasted Trista Howard, a third grader last year.


Mt. View Elementary staff members, as well as parents and community members, donated or loaned 10 point-and shoot digital cameras for the students to check out and use for the club meetings and at recess.


Higgins began club meetings by teaching students how to hold and safely care for a camera, how to insert a memory card and batteries, how to zoom in and out on subjects, and how to take portrait (vertical) and landscape (horizontal) photos.


She also taught students how to make sure their photos were in focus by asking them to take pictures of wall posters that contained writing. If the student could read the writing while looking through the camera lens, the picture was likely in focus, she said.


Other classes focused on basic photo composition and texture, how to crop a photo in a computer software program, and how to photograph groups of objects in an interesting format.


With their imagination being their only limit, students photographed groups of crayons, apples, rocks, and small plastic charms shaped like feet.


They also spent club meetings and recess taking general school photos, both in color and in black and white. As they walked the campus, they photographed plants and flowers around the building, unique angles of the school building, close-ups of musical instruments, and interesting views of playground equipment, including students sliding down the slide.


During one club meeting, Higgins organized a photo scavenger hunt and directed students to find and photograph a list of items. The list was designed to make them think, she said, and included items such as something that represented their favorite color.


For younger students, Higgins focused on interactive assignments that required them to take photos as a team. During one club meeting, she turned off the lights in the classroom and had students photograph glow sticks that fellow students moved quickly in the air. The result was a myriad of neon colors swirled against a black background.


Recognizing students for their work was as important as the lessons themselves, she said.


ImageHiggins featured student work on a digital wall frame in the school’s main office, included a variety of images in a two page layout in the school yearbook, and submitted work in the school district’s annual Dan Vesey-Deb Munson Art Show in May.


One of those entries — a photo of crayons grouped on a table by fifth grader Chloe Williams — won fourth place in the photography category.


Superintendent Tim Yeomans purchased Williams’ crayon photo for permanent display in the school district’s administrative office in downtown Puyallup.


Higgins said she hopes to use one of the walls in the school hallway this year to display photos taken by the camera club throughout the year.


Photography is a hobby for Higgins, who often takes photos outdoors as a member of the Seattle Mountaineers recreational group.


Nancy Strobel, last year’s principal at Mt. View Elementary, said the camera club was different from typical activities at the elementary level.


“Kids loved camera club, and I have been so impressed by the photos they’ve taken,” she said. “Camera club could very well be the beginning of a career path for one or more of our students.”


That includes Taylor Cope, who spent many recesses with a camera in hand, and Bane Morgan, who wants to travel the world taking photos as a possible career.


Chloe Williams, the fourth-place photography winner in the Dan Vesey-Deb Munson Art Show, has also become a shutterbug.


“I basically learned everything about the camera this year,” she said. “I can’t wait to do more with photography.”