The students of Itawamba Career and Technical Center instructor Andy Nichols’s course on digital media recently reached a milestone: the 200th episode of the student-written, performed and produced news program, Itawamba School News.

As reported in this week’s front-page feature, Nichols never planned for the web-based show to make it to episode two. He started the thing on a whim, cobbling together a makeshift studio using classroom supplies and a borrowed camera.

And yet, more than a decade and 199 (200 as of last Friday) episodes later, ISN is still going strong. It’s growing, in fact. Each year, Nichols and his students expand the program just a bit more – adding new lighting, sound equipment, segments, etc. He feels each change both increases its professionalism and makes the show more interesting for its viewers.

For Nichols, the purpose of ISN (besides the initial “let’s see if we can”) is to allow his students to use the tools and skills inherent in a digital media classroom to push themselves creatively. Almost exactly like he did some 11 years ago.

Necessity isn’t always the mother of invention. Sometimes, it’s boredom. Often, it’s curiosity … a willingness to poke something with a stick to see what it does. Itawamba School News was born out of such curiosity and has done immeasurable good over its lifespan. The program has helped show the young students who create it each week that technical and artistic skills are often married, and there’s a wealth of potential careers in an economy that thrives on both.

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