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Students get hands-on training in multimedia
Danielle Miller enters information into an embroidery machine as she embroiders names on blankets meant for Chestatee High cheerleaders Wednesday afternoon. The Flowery Branch High student interns half of a school day.
Lanier Charter Career Academy’s new Digital High program is giving students interested in multimedia and online marketing a chance to get their feet wet.

The hands-on high school program is Hall County school system’s third real-world arena created for students eager to gain experience outside of the classroom. Habitat High puts students in construction experiences with Habitat for Humanity and Hospitality High puts students in tourism and hospitality experiences with Lake Lanier Islands.

Digital High places students in marketing internships with Gainesville-based online marketers Full Media and the Design 360 Lab at Lanier Charter Career Academy.

Academy instructor Rachael McClain said Digital High’s design lab has the tools students need to produce custom-made marketing items such as T-shirts, blankets or Christmas ornaments. Students market the small business, take orders from companies, customize products and then ship them to buyers.

“Our biggest order has been 1,000 T-shirts from Gov. (Sonny) Perdue’s fish fry,” McClain said.

Digital High also features a partnership with Full Media, which helps students to learn how to create Web sites and understand the potential of online marketing. McClain said businesses have been clamoring for more internet-savvy students.

“Businesses are telling us hospitality is a huge industry in our area and they want students who are trained in hospitality, and internet marketing is a big part of that,” she said.

Rather than reading about press releases and making personal Web sites, Digital High students are writing press releases and helping local businesses to market their products online, McClain said.

Morgan Barron, a Flowery Branch High senior, participated in the Hospitality High program last year and joined the Digital High program this year to give her an edge over other college applicants.

“It’s a good way to learn about marketing since I do want to go into that field,” she said. “... We take sales calls and go out into the community and sell our stuff. You’re not sitting in a classroom all day doing projects. I’m a better hands-on learner.”

Barron said she values the experiences she’s had with the Hospitality and Digital High programs and plans to major in public relations at the University of Central Florida next year.