Seniors graduating from the first class of Jim Vance Media Program. (Photo courtesy)

By Deborah Bailey,
D.C. News Editor

The campus of Archbishop Carroll High School shone like a diamond in the midst of a difficult weekend for the District of Columbia.  The young media scholars gathered in the school’s auditorium brought the city a welcome reminder of the talent and giftedness of the city’s youth in spite of disturbing gun violence that rocked the city on the previous day.     

Students, parents, administrators and friends of the Veteran DC journalist, Jim Vance gathered at the high school April 23 for “Simply The Best”; The First Annual Video Showcase of students attending the program created in Vance’s honor.

Vance, who died in 2017, a longtime reporter and anchor of Washington’s WRC television, led the longest-running team in Washington D.C. television, alongside co-anchor and health reporter Doreen Gentzler. Vance won 19 Emmy Awards during his more than 40-year tenure at the Washington DC television station.

Vance’s long-time anchoring partner and friend, Doreen Gentzler, served as Emcee for the glamor-filled student awards program.

“I’m sure Jim’s looking down at all of us tonight and is proud of this evening, the Program and the talented students whose work we will see tonight,” said Getzler in opening remarks.

In the first in-person gathering since the Jim Vance Media Program’s grand opening in March 2020, Vance’s wife, Kathy and daughter Amani expressed pride that Vance’s legacy would be carried forward by the students that emerged from the program, starting with five expected 2022 graduates.  

“At the dedication of the Jim Vance Center I was overwhelmed at the giant painting of my father on the wall of the media center. The artist so beautifully captured him down to the twinkle in his eyes.  I thought what a great representation of my father,” Amani Vance said.  

“Little did I know that years later all of you would represent him just as well,” she continued.

The Jim Vance Media Program’s director and visionary, Dr. Cherie Ward, built the program from the ground up and has steered its success as the program publicly celebrated excellence in student media production and the program’s first graduating class.   

Amani Vance is the daughter of Veteran Journalist Jim Vance. (Photo courtesy)

“In the first four years we have built a 5,500 square foot facility with an advanced production studio. I wrote the curriculum of the program and I direct and teach in the program, Ward said. More than $5 million has been invested in the program and its facilities according to Steve Newby, the program’s principal investor.

Newby said that he was impressed with Vance for years before the program’s development. Vance was a speaker and involved in support of the school before his death.

“It’s one thing to have a facility and a curriculum. But this is an opportunity for the public to see the great work and creativity that the students have invested,” Ward continued.

The Awards ceremony included recognition for freshman through senior level students for excellence in media stories in categories including breaking news, sports, and public service announcements.

Five graduating seniors endured the uncertain transition to virtual learning shortly after the program’s grand opening in 2020. On Saturday, they were presented scholarships as they prepare for graduation from both the Program and Archbishop Carroll High School in May of 2022.

Seniors honored for their participation in the Jim Vance Media Program are Ijeoma Okere – Vance Family Scholarship ($5,000); Alaina Wheeler – Step Up to The Plate Scholarship ($2,500); Zenobia Bey-Braye – Most Evolutionary Scholarship ($1,500); Corbin Flaherty – 1st Graduating Class Book Voucher ($500) and Dionna Duncan – 1st Graduating Class Book Voucher ($500).

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