On Monday, November 5th, the SMARTACUS Creative Group (SCG) conducted a draft in which 26 Saratoga Springs High School (SSHS) journalism students taught by Jill Cowburn selected the community leaders, innovators and artists they will interview toward producing full-length profiles complemented by photographic portraits produced by SSHS student photographers.

Spanning six categories of Upstate New York’s creative economy, this process has resulted in content collaborations with 26 Interview Subjects as follows:

The students made their choices based largely on careers they’re considering, understanding that connections they make early in their careers can pay dividends for a lifetime. We thank all who are participating as Interview Subjects for helping to demonstrate that young people can be productively employed in the creation of content that supports economic development.

As an Interview Subject, you are helping to demonstrate the power of the SMARTACUS Content Engine — a streamlined amalgam of the interactive technologies represented by Basecamp, Typeform, Zoom, and Squarespace — both in producing content and teaching young people the essentials of good writing, collaborative media, and crowdsourcing.

Ultimately, we’ll ask: Can we scale this up?


Boiling our original five interactions down to three, we now ask you to devote just three hours — not four — to your SCG assignment between now and December 20. Let’s cap each of the following at one hour and see how we do:

1 Respond to First Round of Questions

Most students sent their Story Proposals and first round of questions to their Interview Subjects last week. A few more will follow this week. Please consider the long list of questions you’ll find to be prompts that you may pick and answer as you choose toward telling your story and describing the legacy you’d like to leave.

Your written responses will provide the foundation on which the student will frame his or her questions in the Face to Face Interview.

You may respond in either of two ways:

  • Cut and paste the students’ questions into an email and answer them in an open email or Word document, or,

  • Click this link and respond to our Ten Standard Questions in Typeform.

2 Participate in Face-to-Face Interview in Zoom

We’re scheduling interviews now between Monday, December 3 and Friday, December 7. Your Student Writer will connect with you on this. The interview will run no more than 40 minutes, the maximum allowed by the free version of Zoom.

3 Review and Edit the Student’s First Draft

We’re asking students to complete their First Drafts by Thursday, December 13 so that they give you a full week before our December 20 publication date. We’ll ask students to send only their best work in the most polished publishable form. We won’t consider the draft to be final until you, the Interview Subject, sign off on it.