Homeschoolers hone PSAs with Communication Department

Mercyhurst College’s Communication Department helped 24 homeschooled children create television and radio public service announcements (PSAs) benefiting the Erie City Mission.

Twelve girls and 12 boys from the Edinboro, North East, Harborcreek, Wattsburg and Summit Township areas meet every Friday to engage in a variety of activities.

On Friday, Dec. 4, the “Friends Homeschool Co-Op” visited Mercyhurst to experience the world of professional communications.

The day began with a speech from Lisa Zompa Nietupski, director of development at the City Mission. Once an anchor and reporter for WSEE-TV Erie, Nietupski spoke about the organization and its objectives.

Communications professor Dr. Anne Zaphiris and graduate assistant Nadine Zinram-Bower briefly presented information and examples of PSAs to help students generate ideas. The homeschoolers then broke into small groups and began writing a roughly 30-second public service announcement piece.

“This is a great opportunity for these young people to learn about the mission of a local charitable organization, craft a message about holiday giving and convey that message through radio and TV media,” Zaphiris said. “It’s also an opportunity for these students to become acquainted with Mercyhurst and experience life on a college campus.”

Senior strategic communication major Jon Tirk directed a group in brainstorming ideas and writing.

“The experience working with the kids was great,” Tirk said. “I had a lot of fun, and can’t believe how smart they all are.”

The homeschoolers recorded their PSAs at Laker TV and Mercyhurst’s Jazz Radio Station, WMCE-FM 88.5.

According to Tirk, one group’s PSA compared buying a pack of gum to buying one meal from the City Mission because the costs are about the same.

“Each PSA was very creative; they put a lot of effort into them and they all turned out great,” Tirk said.

Making a special appearance at Mercyhurst, WJET-TV Channel 24 also filmed the homeschoolers as they worked on their PSAs. The news segment was then broadcast on the five o’clock news.