The SIS art department received four Nikon D3200 Cameras at the beginning of the school year through a SEED foundation grant coordinated by Sophia Dahlen, grade 7 and 8 art teacher. The cameras are intended for use by both the SIS yearbook staff and art students.
“There is at least one project dedicated to each grade as well as advanced art where they get to use them,” Dahlen said.
Purchased new, the cameras cost around $800 dollars each. However, refurbished cameras were purchased instead, reducing the price.
“I think it’s a great alternative to buying the new ones because there’s always something that could go wrong with them,” Dahlen said.
“It’s a great introductory camera for students. It has the manual settings as well as automatic, so I can actually teach the fundamentals of photography,” Dahlen said.
SIS students can sign up to be part of the yearbook staff, and this year, around 40 students signed up. Dahlen then picks groups of students to take the cameras and shoot events, school-day scenes and sports.
“The one big event that we had with the cameras where the students really demonstrated their skills, was Outdoor Ed this year,” Dahlen said.
“There were about 15 students at camp who took the cameras with them, and I was there for both sessions so I would charge them at night and rotate them out. We operated off of a schedule, by the time both sessions were over we had about 4,000 pictures,” Dahlen said.
“I took pictures of people doing activities, or just people smiling,” said Sophie Warren, grade 7, who used the cameras at Outdoor Ed.
Looking at the pictures after returning to SIS, Dahlen said she was surprised. “There were a handful of students that I had no idea were these skilled photographers, but looking back at their pictures after camp they just have an eye for photography and composition,” Dahlen said.
Dahlen hopes to enter several of these photos into art contests. “I think people like to see the quality of the photo after they took it, because it’s different than taking a picture off of an iPhone,” said Charlie Gravelle, grade 7, who had used the cameras at Outdoor Ed.
Before taking the cameras, each student must first go through a camera training session with Dahlen.
“I taught them the fundamentals of how to use a camera, settings that they should be using, how to change out the lenses, how to charge the batteries, and we talked about appropriate times to be taking pictures and what specifically to look for at camp,” Dahlen said. In the past, SIS had used simple point-and-shoot cameras from 2006.
“It’s much more efficient than last year. Last year was a bit of a struggle with the old cameras, because they would die all the time and still ran off regular batteries, so we had to recharge them all the time. They maybe lasted four hours before they had to recharge.” Dahlen said.
Dahlen also discussed the possibility of SIS staff using the cameras to film staged bits incorporating Positive Behavior Intervention Strategies to encourage positive behavior among students.
Dahlen applied for the SEED grant last spring, while Kevin Gemingani was serving as interim principal. After receiving approval from Gemingani, Dahlen was able to obtain the cameras immediately at the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year.
“It’s a great tool to have in the classroom, and I think it’s going to really push them farther in art and technology, having these available to them and getting to experience different tools at the middle school level,” Dahlen said.
“I learned more about taking pictures in different fields,” Gravelle said. Warren and Gravelle have also taken pictures at SIS events such as the Veteran’s Day assembly and Show Circle. Grade 8 students will take the cameras on Winter Experience and the yearbook crew will continue taking pictures of sporting events and Activity Nights.
By Justine Spore