A group of students has given up part of their summer vacation to become interns on a project that connects their classroom to a real world experience.

Second-year Digital Media students at DeSoto County Schools Career and Technical Center—West were given the opportunity to collaborate with Northcentral Electric Power Association and Justin Jaggers for “Musicians for Le Bonheur.” This group provides a promotional platform for Memphis-area musicians, as well as a way to raise money for Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital. The result will be an album of original songs by Memphis-area artists that will be sold to the public.

The students are Blake Carson, Angel Morgan and Tanner Smart.

“My students are passionate about this project,” said Digital Media teacher Teri Gordon. “Since they study graphic design, animation, audio production and web design, this program has allowed them to practice and apply what they have learned.”

Justin Jaggers is the media specialist for Northcentral EPA, a “Gold Sponsor” for Career & Tech Center. He introduced students to The Grove Recording Studio at Hope Church, a multimillion dollar facility in Cordova, Tennessee. Memphis musician Danny Cosby was there for his recording session of “Am I Only Dreaming,” the song Cosby is donating to the Musicians for Le Bonheur Album.

“Justin trained the students to help run the recording equipment in the sound studio,” Gordon said. “These students will be listed as Audio Engineers for this track on the album.”

Since the Digital Media students showed such interest in music-driven projects, Jaggers invited students to become summer interns on a program he started in college, “Musicians for Le Bonheur.” His goal was to produce a music video to promote the album featuring 40 Memphis-area musical groups.

Artists were allowed to perform a set of songs in the Le Bonheur performance area one day a month. During the performances, patients who were able to leave their rooms circled the performance area in red wagons, swaying to the music. Other patients watched the live performances in their rooms on closed circuit-television.

“It is very emotional for me to see that we were bringing joy to sick children,” said 11th grade student Blake Carson. “As we helped record the performances, we also saw parents pause from dealing with a sick child and all the stress that comes with it.”

Working on this project had special meaning for Blake since she spent the first month of her life as a patient at Le Bonheur.

“I had a condition known as ‘failure to thrive,’” she said. “My parents said I would not eat and I became dehydrated. I was also treated here when I broke my arm, and again when I had a concussion. My parents have said this hospital is my second home, so it is great to be a part of a project that will raise money for this special place, see adults relaxed, and patients happy.”

“Giving back is a core belief of Northcentral Electric EPA,” said Jaggers. “We believe in supporting schools and giving back to the community. This project does both.”

Gordon said she is so appreciative of Northcentral’s involvement and noted that Jaggers has given his time, talents, resources and knowledge to these student interns.

“Justin knows how difficult it is to be an intern and learn the mechanics of recording and filming,” Gordon said. “It has been a gratifying experience to see my students use the skills they are learning in the classroom and apply them to such a wonderful and heartwarming cause. The joy the musicians have brought to the children at Le Bonheur will remain with me forever.”

Katherine Nelson is Communications Director for DeSoto County Schools.

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