From Prison to the Beach: Students Learn “Beyond Classroom Walls”

By Tom Hanaway (@tomhanaway)

Last Thursday was the “Beyond Classroom Walls” event, a night showcasing projects done by students outside of the typical classroom setting, like the beach, a historic theater, and prison.

A presentation was given in the Reeve Theatre to highlight five projects that were completed by students from the College of Letters in Science, including Journalism students, who created an advertising campaign for the Grand Opera House; Radio-TV-Film students, who made a documentary film about a family of life-saving volunteers; Biology students, who tested the water from lakes all over Wisconsin; and more.

One of the biggest presentations of the night was about the documentary, “Airboat Rescue 1: When the Ice Breaks,” a film made by RTF students and Journalism lecturer Grace Lim. Lim talked about her passion for storytelling, the hurtles of creating a documentary, and how she collaborated with two RTF students, Mark Mazur and Trent Hilborn. The film is about a family of rescue boat volunteers from Wisconsin.

Lim said that Mazur and Hilborn were two of the bravest students she had ever worked with, describing how the students were flown in a homemade airplane, clung on to a speeding aircraft on the icy waters of Lake Poygan, and leaned out of a moving vehicle to capture video footage.

“They have no fear,” she said.

The family that is featured in the movie was also present at the event. They received a standing ovation from everyone in the theater after a special preview of the movie was shown. Several members of the audience wiped away tears as the Lee family stood and waved to the almost 150 attendees.


Lee Family
The Lee family receives standing applause from attendees at the "Beyond Classroom Walls" event. Photo by See Xiong, Integrated Marketing and Communications.


There was also a special performance by professor Andre Gaskins and his students who played music from the documentary. Gaskins, a Grammy-nominated performer, created original pieces for the film and recorded the music with some of his students, Callie Soddy and Amanda Martin.


Andre Gaskins and students perform at "Beyond Classroom Walls."
Andre Gaskins and students perform original music at "Beyond Classroom Walls." Photo by See Xiong, Integrated Marketing and Communications.


During the event, students from Lim’s Multiplatform Storytelling in the Digital Age course were documenting the entire night. While some students were snapping photographs of “Beyond Classroom Walls,” others were videotaping interviews or live-tweeting about the event using the Journalism Department’s Twitter account. The whole presentation was also streamed online for people all over the country to see.

Pictures and videos about all of the class projects are currently being displayed in the Steinhilber Art Gallery on the third floor of Reeve Union. Also view the College of Letters and Science Special Reports homepage to read about all of the projects showcased at Beyond Classroom Walls.


Beyond Classroom Walls
The "Beyond Classroom Walls" exhibit at the Steinhilber Gallery in Reeve Memorial Union. Photo by See Xiong, Integrated Marketing and Communications.


The official premiere of “Airboat Rescue 1: When the Ice Breaks” will be held on Jan. 22, 2011 at 2 p.m. at the Grand Opera House. The event, titled “Hometown Heroes,” will honor firefighters and other volunteers.


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