By SARAH HOFIUS HALL
Ten area students are hoping to learn camera basics, lighting for photography and more this year through an online program.
The teens, who are enrolled in a photography program through the United Neighborhood Centers of Northeastern Pennsylvania, will be Penn Foster students this year.
Alicia Knoch, an eighth- grader at West Scranton Intermediate School, said she is excited to be given the opportunity to learn more about her hobby.
"It's a big thing for me," she said. "Nothing like this has ever happened to me."
The opportunity started when Alysia Scazafabo, a member of UNC's Young Professionals Auxiliary Board and community outreach coordinator for Penn Foster, had the idea to connect the students with the Penn Foster program. The project is funded through an anonymous donor.
On Thursday, the students met Joe Gagnon, president of Penn Foster, at the school's Oak Street headquarters.
He said he hopes what the students learn will help them develop a passion.
"I think you have a responsibility to the community you live in to give back," he said.
Along with the program through Penn Foster, the students will be completing a service project this year, said April Holgate, who is the coordinator for UNC's Illumination Youth Arts Program. The teens will be conducting digital photography workshops for senior citizens, she said.
While the 10 students will be working on earning certificates in photography, another student will be enrolled in a comprehensive arts program, Ms. Holgate said.
The Penn Foster opportunity is an extension of UNC's photography program, which is open to children ages 13 to 18 who live in Lackawanna County.
Malek Thomas, 17, a Scranton High School junior, joined the UNC program when he was in seventh grade.
"I love the program," Malek said.