Four students at Magna Vista High School found a creative way to share and discuss important topics with their peers. Since 2019, the group has worked to develop an entirely student-run news network, Magna Vista Network (MVN), which includes a podcast, a newsletter, and a YouTube channel.
Alaynah Koger, Jaydon Carter, Kolby Davis, and Aniya Penn, all seniors, began MVN—then called Magna Vista TV, or MVTV—during their sophomore year.
“It’s all student created, curated, edited, everything,” said Magna Vista Instructional Resource Technology Teacher Arrica Agee. “They do it all. They’re so motivated and self-driven. They’re just awesome people. All four of them are leaders, and they’re going to go far in life.”
Agee said that, because of the group’s age, their opinions tend to be dismissed. People think “because they’re high schoolers, they don’t have an educated opinion, but I beg to differ. These guys are more well-educated on these issues than a lot of adults that are giving their opinion on national platforms, and no one ever asks their opinion.”
Penn covers special events. “I relay positive messages to our student body and I am in charge of the 701 Magna Vista Network cartoon,” she said.
Davis said he covers weekly weather and hosts the network’s podcast, “What’s the Issue?” as well as doing other work, including research, to help further MVN.
Koger said she writes and edits the network’s articles, does daily announcements, and is in charge of communications.
Carter said he primarily works behind the camera, creates graphics, and is in charge of maintaining the network’s website.
Carter explained that the idea for the network came about because it was difficult to hear the school’s morning and afternoon announcements. The group took the idea of MVTV to their principal who, Carter said, loved the idea.
“We started recording on our phones,” he said, editing the material on school laptops and posting it to the TVs in the school cafeteria. Eventually, the school purchased the group a camera.
“Once COVID hit, we weren’t able to do that anymore because all of our content was broadcast in the school and nobody was in the school,” Koger said. “We decided we needed to make our content more accessible if we wanted to continue with this idea.”
The group then decided to start a website, and MVN was born.
“They talk about issues they’re concerned about,” Agee said. “Really important stuff that people don’t really take time to ask others or even listen to. They just care.”
Important, too, Agee said, is how the students communicate the information to their peers. “They’re putting it in terms that people their age will understand,” she said.
Koger said that some of MVN’s content includes a newsletter containing the group’s articles, the 701 Show, which is a cartoon, and the “What’s the Issue?” podcast, “where we talk about important issues most people wouldn’t want to talk about.”
Carter showcased three newsletters, which include topics like Black History Month, Women’s History Month, and mental health awareness.
He said in Black History Month, the team highlighted Black trailblazers, Black-owned businesses, and Black student athletes.
For Women’s History Month, Carter said, the group highlighted the struggles women face in our society.
Davis said a special commemorative issue was created for Nick Pruitt, a fellow student who died in a car crash last year. “It was to honor the things he loved in life. It was to show that we love him, we’ll always love him, and we’ll always remember him because he’s a part of Magna Vista, and he’s a part of us.”
Penn said that the animated 701 Show covers daily announcements, special news within the school, and the weather.
“Recently, we’ve been doing interviews because we want to get active in our Warrior community,” she said. In one video, the crew asked Black student athletes to describe themselves in one word. In another for Women’s History Month, the focus was on women in power, including teachers and guidance counselors, also challenging them to provide one-word descriptors.
Davis said their “What’s the Issue?” podcast is a space to have “real, honest, and raw conversations about the issues facing our community. People our age, people who aren’t our age, people in our country—we’ve talked about women’s inequality in the world, we’ve talked about the struggles and stigma around mental health, how it affects both men and women, we’ve talked about the struggles people of different races, backgrounds have to go through. We have open and raw conversations because in order for the world to ever changes, we have to be willing to come to a table and have conversations about what matters.”
He said that each podcast opens with a trigger warning about what issues will be discussed because, “we understand while these conversations need to be had, we understand they may not be what everybody wants to hear.”
In keeping with the theme of the videos they showed the board, each MVN student chose one word to describe how they felt about the network they had created during their time at Magna Vista.
Penn opted for the word “proud. I’m very proud to look back at where we started and where we are now … and how we used what was around us and adapted to it and really changed things.”
Davis said he was thankful.
“I’m thankful for all the amazing opportunities we’ve gotten to over these past few years, for all the amazing stories we’ve gotten to cover and all the wonderful people we’ve gotten to meeting. I’m thankful for the chance to come here today and present to you something that’s so important to each of us.”
Koger’s word was “motivated.”
“I feel motivated that I’ve had the opportunity to be part of something like MVN, and I have so many resources that I can now take within me to other parts of my life.”
Carter chose the word “optimistic. I really hope that MVN will keep going and even become county-wide.”
Davis said that his experience with MVN has affected his post-graduation aspirations. “I plan on being a double major in political science because I want to help make an impact in the world, because I’ve seen through this that if you’re willing to talk to people you can really make a difference in the world.”
“I think a huge reason that, hopefully, this is their legacy and it carries on is because you see a big difference between students who are exposed to this level of thinking in high school” and those who are not, Agee said. Even looking at students before and after the pandemic, a difference is noticeable, she said.
“A lot of underclassmen we see now are disassociated with people and things and issues going on around them, so hopefully this will open their eyes too, that it’s not just something they’re seeing on the news, but things their peers are struggling with,” she added.
Penn said that MVN will continue after the four founders graduate, adding that the group is mentoring several freshmen to take up the torch, and a number of other students also are a part of the effort.
“The legacy will live on for years to come,” she said.
MVN can be accessed through the MVTV tab on Magna Vista’s website, www.henry.k12.va.us/magnavista.