SHS grads to cover Olympics

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The Ball State University team is eager to get started on their 2012 Summer Olympics coverage in July, including Sandpoint High School graduates Jennifer Prandato and Chelsea Kardokus, who sit in the front row third and fourth from the left. (Courtesy photo)

SANDPOINT — Two local high school graduates are going to have a one-of-a-kind learning experience in a few weeks.

Chelsea Kardokus and Jennifer Prandato, former Sandpoint High School students and current enrollees at Ball State University, are joining around 40 other students plus their instructors to cover the 2012 Summer Olympics in London from July 23 to Aug. 15. The team will work side-by-side with respected members of the national media to cover the many athletes and stories that arise during the competitions.

“This is an amazing opportunity,” Kardokus said. “It’s going to be an awesome experience.”

The exciting opportunity began when Kardokus and Prandato’s professor, Ryan Sparrow, learned of an opportunity to assist established news organizations in Olympics coverage. He opened the project to several of his own students and eventually broadened parameters to include telecommunications majors. After everyone had their opportunity to express interest, professors selected the most committed of the bunch to form the final group.

“They chose some really great students,” Prandato said.  

In the case of Kardokus and Prandato, both graphic design majors, they will be working closely with the Chicago Tribune whipping up graphics for the publication’s print, web and iPad editions.

“We’re doing a big spread for them, which I’m really excited about,” Prandato said.

Throughout their stay in the U.K., the two students will keep a close eye on competition developments. Should any records be broken or significant events occur, they will throw that data into an interesting visual package under the guidance of their supervisors at Bell State and the Chicago Tribune. Since they’ll jump into hands-on coverage and perform the same tasks expected of paid employees, the project promises to offer unparalleled early professional experience.

“We’ll be ready at a moment’s notice to start working if something big happens,” Kardokus said.

In many ways, the team is focusing on atypical approach to sports coverage. At least, that’s the angle they’ve taken thus far. Rather than viewing the global event from a broad perspective, project participants are closing in on the more human elements. Much of the group’s existing output profiles individual athletes or even family members, drawing out the characteristics that make them individuals. For example, one Olympic athlete, diver Thomas Finchum, splits his time between his sport and playing in a band.

“Those kind of details really make these athletes into individuals,” Prandato said.

Once they arrive in the United Kingdom, the students will split into two groups. One will be based out of the nearby city Worcester, while the other will maintain operations in London itself. The two groups will switch up on a regular basis, offering everyone involved a full range of experiences.

For Kardokus and Prandato, the Olympics will only be part of their European experience. When given the option to continue their education overseas, participate in the Olympics project or both, Kardokus and Prandato decided to take the best of both worlds. The summer will be an expensive one, but it will also offer a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And you can’t put a price on that.

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