The Presidency and the Press Conference for High School Media at Franklin Pierce University


July 19, 2012

Marlin Fitzwater

The Presidency and the Press Conference for high school students took place July 14-18 at Franklin Pierce University (FPU), hosted by the Marlin Fitzwater Center for Communication on the Rindge campus. The conference introduces high-achieving high school students to the dynamics of presidential election politics, the role of the media who cover it, and the relationship between the two. This year’s conference was comprised of 13 students from a number of New England high schools; four alums of the program, currently in college, served as helpers and came from as far away as California. 

Students spent the first two days in classroom sessions, followed by two off-campus days and then one final day on campus. Visits included the New Hampshire State House, Obama and Romney headquarters, and WMUR’s home office.  The students learned a variety of skills, such as writing and posting articles on the web, and producing newscasts, videos, and slideshows. Students had the opportunity to meet with many professionals in politics and the media, including Governor John Lynch; Marlin Fitzwater, the longest serving U.S. press secretary, who came to meet with the group at FPU’s Manchester campus; and David Valdez, one of four living Presidential photographers, who Skyped with the group.

The students were aided by FPU’s Dr. Robin Marra, who accompanied the group on the road to talk about politics and elections; Professor Paul Bush, who assisted in the mass communication’s classroom sessions; and Greg King, who helped teach production skills. Dr. Kristen Nevious, Director of the Marlin Fitzwater Center, helped out both on and off campus, and even chaperoned the group by spending her nights sleeping in the dorm.

Kelsey Kresge, a student at Pinkerton Academy in Derry, N.H., who aspires to be a writer, appreciated the opportunity “to work on my writing skills and especially time management skills, which is a really important part of that.” Jake Guerra, who will be a senior at Conant High School this fall, said, “The opportunity to interview Marlin Fitzwater was really great and so was meeting [sports reporter] Jason King of WMUR.” Two conference attendees who will be starting FPU in September and two of the college helpers will take to the road together this fall to cover the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., as part of the team from FPU.

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