The Castleton Connections website is the product of a new course at Castleton State College and is doing just what its title suggests – putting the entire community of Castleton in touch with one another.
The class is being run like a working a newsroom with students constantly working on various feature and hard news stories that end up on castletonconnections.weebly.com.
Professor of communication Dave Blow is teaching the course and said that it came about after about a year of designing.
“Something like this took some time to plan. And I gave up an editing class for this,” he said.
“It’s a news room setting,” he continued. “It’s not lectures and tests, but students are actually determining their grades by tracking down stories.”
Students in the course agree that the newsroom setting provides a solid opportunity to showcase their skills and experience what work in their field could be like.
“It’s good to get outside the college community and more involved in the community I live in,” said student Josh Basset. “In this class we can venture outside of the college norms. It’s definitely been a worthwhile and different experience.”
Senior Courtney Parker also agreed that the experience has been beneficial.
“It’s real field experience in class. We bounce ideas off of each other, do interviews and really make our stories,” she said.
One student in the course said she’s had an internship, so the experience isn’t entirely new. Even so, she agrees that there are valuable things being taught.
“It definitely provides the opportunity to dig deeper into the town. It’s so small, some people think there’s nothing here, but there are interesting places, people, businesses,” said student Bryanna Allen-Rickstad.
The site is proving to be worthwhile, not just for the class, but for the community as well.
“We get a lot of hits,” said Blow. “No one else was doing it and we are.”
Castleton Connections has even gained some recognition from the community in terms of feedback.
In an email from the State Police Lt. Charles Cacciatore, he thanked Blow for posting the link to site on frontporchforum.com. He said that there were “Great stories on the Castleton Connection…thanks for posting the link.”
Even with all of the positive feedback, Blow says there are still some kinks to work out, however.
“I’m very happy with the product but I’d just like to see more – which is typical me,” Blow said smiling. “I’d like to do it again, but with a little more structure – less milling about. Sometimes people take advantage of the lack of structure,” he said, “but I get to grade ’em.”