Each school year at the Manhattan Early College School for Advertising (MECA), culminates with student presentations of their final project, a business or service they’ve envisioned, along with an advertising and marketing campaign.
This year’s final presentations took place May 31 in the classroom of MECA Teacher Lora Morgenstern. “Every year, we have expanded the projects and increased what we expect of the students,” says Morgenstern, whose classroom walls are covered in student work and colorful posters on advertising concepts.
“Students not only apply what they’re learning about advertising in their final projects, they get practice using PowerPoint to create a visually compelling sales pitch in front of students, staff and advertising professionals,” says Gregory Bryant, the MECA College Liaison out of the Office of Academic Affairs at BMCC. “In the process, they build a sense of what might be required of them in college or their eventual careers.”
Building 21st-century skills
Parents and industry professionals were among the guests attending the 2017 year-end presentations. As MECA students in suits and business attire stood at the front of the classroom, they pointed to PowerPoint slides projected behind them.
“One of our key areas of focus is the cultivation of presentation abilities,” says MECA Principal Matthew Tossman. “Students spend time presenting to an audience not just of peers, but of outside guests. This is an important career and life skill; there is hardly a job out there that doesn’t require a certain level of presentation competence, as well as clear and compelling communication.”
Takiya Weekes, Director of Career Readiness, Early College and Career Schools, NYC Department of Education, echoed that sentiment.
“It’s all about strengthening the students’ 21st-century skills,” says Weekes. “These include essential soft skills such as leadership, communication, the ability to work on a team — things that employers in virtually every industry are looking for.”
The students’ end-of-year presentations are judged on strategy, creative quality and other facets, Morgenstern explains. Each presentation includes a product introduction, budget, brand promise and more.
The students’ final projects reflect their interests and imaginations. Nayeli Jorge’s invention, “Somnium,” is what she calls “a dream catcher.” Andrea Chacha created “My Blanket,” to ease sleep disorders. Jamont Richardson envisions opportunity for talented youth who rap, in the “Moneymont Music Production Company.” Avar He Zapata created “Mecha Crossover Anime,” a cartoon series with crossover characters.Sanachi Del Rosario outlined the rollout of the world’s first “Converting Band, WiFi Mood Bracelet,” and Laila Williams presented a movement-improving device, “Gymotion.”
After each student presentation, Morgenstern offered feedback. “You used a lot a humor; you made your product come alive because you had passion in your voice,” she told one student.
Guests and fellow students also shared feedback. “I love the creativity, but you need to make more eye contact when you do your presentation,” one person offered. Another asked, “What drives your passion for your product?”
Jamont Richardson, who presented the “Moneymont Music Production Company,” highlighted his company’s tagline: “If you don’t live your dream, why live?”
Dreams of college and a career find real beginnings at MECA. “The Introduction to Advertising course opens up areas the students will continue to delve into, throughout their time at MECA and well into their higher education and career paths,” says Bryant. “We are excited about their potential.”
The Manhattan Early College School for Advertising (MECA) is a partnership between Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC/CUNY), the NYC Department of Education, CUNY and industry partners from the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s). MECA students begin taking college courses with BMCC professors in the 10th grade and over a six-year period, earn a high school Regents Diploma and free associate degree from BMCC.