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Fort Smith Public School Students Take over the City of Fort Smith’s Social Media!

(October 5, 2020, Fort Smith, AR) —The City of Fort Smith is turning its social media platforms over to some very special individuals in the City; photography students at Northside and Southside High. “It’s called a social media takeover, and it’s a way that the City can engage the youth in our community. As a municipality, we want to involve our City’s students, showcase their talents, encourage their creativity, and enable them to share their unique perspectives with our social media audiences,” said Shari Cooper, the City’s Public Relations & Communications Manager. The takeover begins on Monday, October 5, 2020. Each day the City will allow the students to post some of their favorite photographs on the City’s Facebook and Instagram channels.

“A few weeks ago, Northside Photography students visited the skate park/riverfront area to photograph the essence of downtown Fort Smith. After seeing the photos on social media, The City of Fort Smith's Public Relations & Communication Manager asked if Northside and Southside students would like to submit photos for a “Peace in the Parks” theme as part of a social media takeover. The students were so excited to participate!” said Christina Williams, Coordinator of Public Information for the district.

"When The City pitched the theme, “Peace in the Parks,” the students were thrilled for their work to reach a larger, authentic audience. What a privilege to serve our city with our talents," said Northside High School Photography Teacher, Leigh Ann Hasley.

Southside High School’s Journalism Teacher, Susan Colyer added, “Utilizing the talent of the city’s youth for the “Peace in the Parks” initiative created a wonderful educational opportunity. For student work to be showcased on a digital platform to help promote the park system presented a teachable moment. Photographers seeing their images featured to help advocate for their hometown is an important acknowledgment of the student's voice in the community.”

“It’s that hometown pride and love of Fort Smith that is so contagious,” Cooper said. “The world we see is created by what we focus on. There are many different ways to look at the world, the City, and the challenging times in which we live. In a COVID-dominated world, we thought it would be a refreshing idea to focus on the younger generation’s perspective and the positive aspects of living in Fort Smith.”

The takeover will run through the first week of November. Fort Smith residents are encouraged to visit the City’s Facebook and Instagram pages: Facebook (@FtSmithAR) and Instagram (@FortSmithAR) to view, like, and share the student’s photos to support these young, budding photographers. The public is also invited to search the student's campaign hashtag "#PEACEINTHE PARKS."

Here are some quotes about how the students felt about the project and their assignment.

"Getting to take pictures of the dogs at the dog park was exciting. All the dogs were super friendly and the owners welcomed us to take images when they found out what the project was about."
–Annie Scott, Junior, Northside High School

"Taking pictures for the city of Fort Smith was a fun and relaxing project that I'm glad to have experienced during my last year in the Northside photography program."
–Jonathan Brewer, Senior, Northside High School

“This was a fantastic opportunity to work with the City of Fort Smith. I loved how they incorporated high school students with this project.”
–Carsyn Lincks, Junior, Southside High School

“Taking pictures at Carol Ann Cross for the city was such an honor; that park means so much to me. It is right by my house, so all the memories there are so special. Every time I go, I’m at peace. I love Carol Ann Cross Park!”
–Gabby Woodie, Junior, Southside High School

“Running around the ERC Dog Park in Chaffee Crossing, Molly the golden doodle enjoyed spending time with her family on a sunny fall day.”
–Ellie Bunnell, Junior, Southside High School

"Walking in the breezy park is a fresh breath of air. The peaceful, stunning scenery is a beautiful dream come true.”
–Elijah Owens, Senior, Southside High School