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Utopian Academy For The Arts| Georgia Approved Charter Middle School » Utopian Academy Launches Internet Radio and Television Programming
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Utopian Academy for the Arts has launched new Internet radio and television channels to showcase the creative talents of student actors, singers, dancers and young filmmakers.
 
The curriculum expansion was made possible through a partnership with Kingdom Business Communications Network of Ellenwood, GA, a metro Atlanta-based media company that provides online radio and television programming and business services.
 
Utopian TV and Radio will feature news, talk, educational and music shows. Its debut program is scheduled for release later this month on KBC’s True-Vision Network. The show, “UAFA Buzz,” will feature a behind the scenes look at Utopian Academy and its activities. Students will work on the shows weekly on Monday and Tuesday between 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.
 
“This new broadcasting project gives our scholars a place to showcase their talents,” said Mr. Artesius Miller, executive director of Utopian Academy. “Family and friends of Utopian can tune in and see the exciting things that our students are working on. Our audience has expanded to the World Wide Web.”
 
Parents are excited about seeing their children on Internet TV. Students in Utopian Academy’s new Broadcasting Club will provide talent for the shows and operate cameras, lighting and sound equipment. It gives broadcasting students more time to learn about their favorite subject after-school.
 
“Our scholars will work like professionals in the business,” said Ms. Lauren Lawson, Director of Broadcasting at Utopian, who will serve as the executive director of programming for the Internet shows. “We will have directors, producers, journalists, show managers and radio personalities. We will use the tools of industry like Final Cut Pro. I will them how to do linear and non-linear editing.”
 
Eighth graders at Utopian Academy are serving as mentors for sixth graders who have joined the Broadcasting Club. “These kids are coming in with no experience and they are learning how to do everything so quickly,” Lawson said. “It is very exciting. I am proud of them.”
 
The students are also receiving tips from an industry insider, Mr. James Green, founder of The Media Dominion Group, which oversees KBC TV.  Mr. Green visits Utopian Academy as much as twice a week to teach students how to operate equipment that will allow them to broadcast live on the Internet.
 
“I think this opportunity will benefit the students because they will gain real work experience,” Mr. Green said. “I started off at the age of 17 working at a radio station playing country music in McDonough. I enjoyed the experience so much that I later graduated with honors from Stillman College with a degree in broadcast communication.”
 
Mrs. Deetra Poindexter, parent liaison for Utopian Academy, invited Green to bring the broadcast program to Utopian Academy. She has a seventh grader at the school.
 
“Working with the television and radio station will help students to see how their education relates directly to careers,” she said. “It will give them a sense of pride to see their work highlighted on television and radio. They will feel more confident in themselves, and their skills. It will be like ‘I did that!’”
 
The exposure, adds Green, could inspire students to study broadcasting in college. “After working with the network, they may say, ‘This is really what I want to do.’”
 
You can listen to KBCN Radio on your mobile phone by calling 401-347-9823 and pressing the number 2 on your device. Internet TV programming can be viewed at kbcnetwork.net.
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    August 31, 2015August 31, 2015
    RIVERDALE - When 300 students at Utopian Academy for the Arts reported to classes last week, there was no sign on the lawn letting them know that they had reached the right place. The name of the school had been removed by order of the City of Riverdale.This week the sign is still bare.The City of Riverdale has prohibited Utopian from using its school sign to welcome visitors or identify the building until administrators secure a business license. School officials, however, maintain that Utopian is a public school so a business license is not necessary. The debate has caused the school to accrue fines in the hundreds of dollars for violating city code. Administrators say the fees and threats are just another attempt to “bully” Utopian into pulling out of Riverdale.“They don’t want people to know that a school exists at 6630 Camp Street,” said Artesius Miller, executive director of Utopian. “They have stripped us naked and said basically ‘You all will not have anything so that people will know that you are even here’.”Similar tactics last year resulted in delaying the opening of school for more than a week. A Clayton County fire marshal denied administrators, teachers, and students the right to access the building saying that Utopian needed a last minute inspection among other things to occupy the premises. Utopian lost 80 students after its delayed opening.Utopian’s rocky start inspired legislation to protect state-approved public charter schools from similar stall tactics. The "Utopian Academy for the Arts Act," which went into effect in July, prohibits local governments from requiring public charter schools approved and inspected by officials with the state Department of Education to be forced to obtain any other licenses from local government entities to operate their school.The law does not protect a charter school’s signage, however.In the weeks before classes began this school year, a City of Riverdale code enforcement officer left a violation notice on Utopian’s door warning administrators to take action immediately: “Remove banner until permit is issued and apply for a business license.” Miller said that a member of the Clayton County School board advised him that other county schools in Riverdale are not required to have a sign permit or a business license. “Every time that we have attempted to have some type of signage, we were told that we needed a permit or we were being fined because we are not affiliated with the Board of Education in Clayton County,” he said. [columns] [column half][pullquote left]

    Where Is Utopian Academy for the Arts? City Prohibits School From Using Sign[/pullquote][/column] [column half]

    “It got really nasty,” Miller said of a recent surprise visit from code enforcement before school began."

    Miller said that he has received calls and notes from the city warning that Utopian has accrued fees in the hundreds of dollars for violating city business license and sign codes. “It got really nasty,” Miller said of a recent surprise visit from code enforcement before school began. “The guy came and tossed the [fee list] in the face” of a school supporter.Miller took video footage of the visit that shows a code enforcement officer telling him and a school supporter that an inspection of the school’s signage was necessary because “the Georgia Department of Education does not look for stuff like this on buildings.”For the second year in a row, Miller turned to the State Charter Schools Commission for reinforcement. Miller got a letter explaining to the city that schools authorized by the commission are indeed public schools, not businesses.“Utopian Academy for the Arts is a public charter school authorized by the SCSC- a state level authorizing entity under the authority of the state Board of Education,” wrote Gregg Stevens, general counsel for the commission.“Accordingly, Utopian Academy for the Arts should at all times be treated like a public school with the privileges, rights, and obligations afforded thereto …” Utopian opened in August 2014. It was denied the right to exist by the Clayton County School board in 2011, 2012, and 2013 when the district rejected its charter application. The local denial was over-ruled by the state in October 2013. The state Charter Schools Commission granted Utopian Academy the authority to serve kids for five years as a state charter school. It was the first charter school to win approval from the new commission.[/column] [/columns] State Rep. Valencia Stovall, who supported the opening of Utopian in Clayton and co-sponsored the new law protecting charter schools from harassment, said it was “disheartening” to learn that Utopian is still having trouble with local government.“They should be treated as any other public school opening in the city,” Stovall said. “Instead, they have been hit from both sides from the City of Riverdale and the Clayton County School Board.” Stovall said that in addition to racking up fines from the city, Clayton Schools is exercising its right to charge Utopian much higher rent than the building’s earlier tenant. Utopian pays $3,000 a month to use the building compared to the Riverdale Development Authority, which had a lease allowing it to pay $1 annually for 20 years.School leaders say they refused to be forced out of Riverdale by local leaders who see them as competition. “Being in this fight for so long has been a tedious journey for me not only as a board member, but also a parent,” said Sharon Daniel, who chairs Utopian’s governing board. “We will not give up. We will educate the City of Riverdale.Utopian is a public school. We have a right to be here.” CLICK HERE FOR THIS RELEASE IN A DOWNLOADABLE FORMAT