Landon Ford starts internship at The Lansing Journal as part of Unity Christian Academy’s pilot program

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Landon Ford
Part of Unity Christian Academy's pilot internship program, Landon Ford is The Lansing Journal's first intern. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
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by Jennifer Yos

LANSING, Ill. (October 14, 2021) – Unity Christian Academy of South Holland has launched a pilot program this year that is providing internships for their high school seniors. Seniors will serve as interns in a number of fields including academic research in psychology and astronomy, marketing and event planning, video game design, entrepreneurship and business, clinical social work, prison outreach, and marine recruitment. Landon Ford, an 18-year-old senior at Unity Christian, has been paired up with The Lansing Journal for a six-week internship in journalism.

Learning Lansing journalism

Ford will be working primarily with Managing Editor Josh Bootsma and will be attending meetings of various organizations within the Village, such as the Village Board and Chamber of Commerce. He has already attended a Village Planning and Zoning Board meeting. Ford will take part in The Lansing Journal’s Touch-Base Tuesday lunch meetings and either stand behind or in front of the camera for weekly Friday videos. It is possible he will be involved in some ad design and sales for the newspaper as well.

Ford has expressed an interest in doing human interest or arts and entertainment articles. He will be taking photos, writing stories, and helping Bootsma conduct interviews. The two will meet twice a week to check in and discuss his work. During his internship, Ford will not be attending his regular classes at Unity Christian, and his internship will culminate with a capstone project.

“My hope is to give him a good flavor of what reporting the news in Lansing looks like,” said Bootsma.

Ford expressed his anticipation of a positive learning experience: “I hope to gain a new perspective about the world around me, the community I interact with.”

His plans after high school are to attend an in-state liberal arts college, majoring in drama, theatre arts, or the fine arts. He is especially interested in being a voice actor. When he was younger, he enjoyed imitating the voices on Wii’s JRPG’s (Japanese Role-Playing Games). Landon’s hobbies include playing video games, drawing, reading, and playing trombone. He’s been playing trombone for six years, and in middle school, he played in the jazz band S.O.S. (Sounds of Soul).

Learning, doing, discerning

Landon Ford
Neil Okuley is the principal of Unity Christian Academy. (Photo from weareuca.org)

In speaking with The Lansing Journal about how Unity Christian Academy’s intern program came about, Principal Neil Okuley explained, “Before we even started, going back to 2015-16, when the board was doing some preliminary research about how they wanted the school to form, there was always a passion for authentic learning and real-world experience, but not wanting to just say, ‘We’re a vocational school.’ The motto for the internship program is College, Career, Calling. We have a pedagogy that’s really based on, as much as possible, on problem and project-based learning. So internship is the culmination of that — where we go out and see if the skills that we have learned are transferring to real-world settings.”

According to Okuley, the program has evolved in the last couple of years. It is now intended to be a four-year sequence. This year, freshmen will start investigating career clusters they are interested in, and by the time they get to senior year, Unity Christian will find a business partner that is either in that field or adjacent to it. Okuley appreciates this year’s partners, saying, “All of our partners this year really have a heart for helping us build this program. … My hope is that, over the years, this will become a really positive, dynamic thing for the community.”

Unity Christian Academy is located at 16341 South Park Avenue, Building 2, South Holland, IL.

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Jennifer Yos grew up on Walter Street in Lansing with nine siblings. She attended St. Ann’s School and T.F. South, and she earned a BA in the Teaching of English from the University of Illinois, Chicago, and a MS in Education: Curriculum and Instruction from the University of St. Francis, Joliet. For 34 years she taught English, as well as Creative Writing and Drama, at Lincoln-Way High School. She dabbled in freelance journalism for the Joliet Herald News Living section. Now retired, Jennifer appreciates the opportunity to write for The Lansing Journal and is uplifted by the variety of positive people she has already met who are making a difference in Lansing.

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