UNITY — Unity Composite High School has helped pave the path for a variety of notable careers for graduating students. One high-profile alumnae is current weather and traffic anchor and senior digital broadcast journalist Chantal Wagner on Global News Morning, Saskatoon.
“I have been at Global for a year and a half,” Wagner tells the Unity-Wilkie Press-Herald and SASKTODAY.ca.
“I’m really enjoying it and it’s been great to share the forecast in my home province.
“Being in a broadcasting career or any field of work takes time, and you have to work your way up. A job in the real world is completely different from post-secondary, especially high school. You keep building on those skills and are always learning.”
UCHS offered journalism classes for students initiated by Ms. Ruth Weber, who was once a teacher and vice-principal there and now works in Living Sky School Division office.
Wagner says one of her more memorable experiences with the UCHS journalism class included pre-game, live-game and post-game coverage for an IIHF World Junior pre-tournament exhibition game during the 2010 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships hosted in Saskatoon.
Unity, Wagner’s hometown, won the right to host Latvia and Austria in a pre-event game and the arena was packed. A pre-game pep rally amped up the excitement at the high school as well as minor hockey members skated and practised with the international hockey stars.
“Our class had a blog that we updated from the fall until the tournament with videos, photos and posts. We also live-streamed the game which was viewed [by] people around the world including families of Latvia and Austria players ... I interviewed international players from both teams and people from the community about the game,” adds Wagner.
Living Sky School Division Virtual School offers options for careers in wide variety of media options
“Practical Applied Arts classes (PAA) teach hands-on skills that can range from welding to fashion to technology classes like creating media, editing images, photography and computer skills.” Shawn Whtye, designer, and teacher at Living Sky School Division virtual school says.
“It’s a vast network of options for students.”
Whyte says he has developed a large number of media-related modules students can choose from. It’s a technologies survey class where students get to choose from different modules to make their own classes. It allows students to have a voice and choice in their learning.
“The more media-centred skills are video production, audio production and online streaming,” adds Whyte.
Whyte’s enthusiasm was evident when explaining what the modules can offer students, even noting students can experience a two-month-long project where they can create a news production, a short indie film or a YouTube channel.
“Online streaming is huge right now and is a possible career choice for many students, and one that is definitely glamourized through live gaming streams, Twitch, TikTok and YouTube.”
Students learn how to create their own branding, he says. Then they script and create a stream.
“The advanced project allows students to actually plan and deliver a live stream for their school or community, using all of the skills they have learned.”
Whyte notes that with his virtual school classes, students can go as far as they want.
“I encourage all students to learn technology skills, even if they aren’t thinking of doing something like this in the future. Students learn not only the ideas behind these skills but also how to plan and create things using complex software and processes,” Whyte says
Whyte notes any industry or profession students go into will require them to learn complex skills, so these modules show the work that goes into creative ideas, following instructions, developing the capacity to use technology to complete a specific task, planning and completing diverse and multi-level projects.
Unity Composite High School offers Media Studies and Journalism classes
Kyle Wood teaches Media Studies 20 at UCHS. Journalism 20 went on hiatus after Ms. Weber left to work in the division office, however, Miss Riddell picked it up again in 2022 and Wood has continued it this year.
Students wanting to get into a career in the news or broadcasting are encouraged by Wood to take Media Studies 20 or Journalism 20 classes at UCHS. as they are designed to be an introduction.
Media Studies 20 introduces and explores a number of concepts and philosophies that influence the fields of media and communication, and provides more marketing, advertising and film production content than journalism.
“Having both would be useful, but it would certainly be a good test of what area in media a student would be most interested in pursuing,” adds Wood.
Wood also facilitates an online school options for students interested in a career in this field.
“And, obviously, the ELA courses are indispensable as they cover different writing styles that overlap with media content, including news articles and editorials, as well as opportunities to develop public speaking skills,” says Wood.
“I believe that many of the journalism students took the skills that they learned into a variety of careers, but Chantal is definitely one [who] was inspired to continue,” says Ruth Weber, former Journalism 20 teacher at UCHS and now superintendent at Living Sky School Division.
“Ever since I was little, I always dreamed to be on TV and make people smile,” Wagner says.
“The class was very interesting and a stepping stone to look into broadcasting and journalism post-secondary options.”
Advice for those pursuing career in media
Wagner’s job is not for the faint of heart. She gets up for work at 3 a.m. to get ready and be at the television station by 4 a.m. She produces the weatherboards and goes through many #YourSask photos, along with story and event emails the station receives.
Wagner also prepares the interviews she has coming up on the show that day. From that point, she “mics up” and is part of hosting the three-hour live show that is on Global Saskatoon Morning from 5 to 9 a.m. each weekday.
“After the show, we have our morning meeting and pre-tape interviews on location for different segments that air on the show. We are always planning for the next day and scheduling for weeks ahead,” Wagner says,
Asked what advice she would give to students who may be interested in a career in the media, Wagner responds, “Do what you love and what you feel pulled towards. It’s like any career, broadcasting takes patience. Wherever you decide to do your post-secondary you will have to work your way up after schooling. There will be many moves, but a lot of great coworkers turn into lifelong friends along the way. “
To move up the ladder in Wagner’s career she had to say goodbye to many coworkers, friends and community members along the way.
“It is a journey and a lot of hard work. I have always been happy with my moving decisions.”
Wagner also advises being prepared for criticism and not comparing your journey to others.
“My mom always said from when I was little, it doesn’t matter what you do in life, as long as you love what you do and [do it] 110 per cent.”
Wagner maintains she loves this job. She has a routine but knows that every day of work is different.
“It is a career where sometimes your job comes first over your social life (like an early bedtime). It’s a small but mighty morning show team and everyone is relied on and plays an important role to get the show on air.”