Indian Valley Academy alumna Julianne Cook (far left) returns to her high school to offer an intensive week-long project-based learning experience to current students. Her team mates for the project, from left, were Genna Battagin, Christian Smith, and Emily Smith. Photo by Ingrid Burke

Plumas Charter School students explore advertising during week-long workshop

Ingrid Burke

Special to Plumas News

[email protected]


Students in Plumas Charter School’s Indian Valley Academy participated in a week-long project-based learning experience offered by IVA alumna Julianne Cook in March. Guided by a team of college students and graduates at their Taylorsville campus, seventh- through 12th-graders dove into the topics of creative marketing and advertising with actual local businesses as “clients.”


The experience

Students were divided into seven groups. After choosing a name and designing a logo for their hypothetical advertising firm, each group was assigned a local business as a “client.” Based on details about their client’s real-life business — including marketing and advertising needs — the students worked together to craft a comprehensive advertising package that included identification of target markets and “brand problems,” development of print and radio ads, and other creative outreach strategies.

“Our project-based learning was basically a week-long college-level Intro to Advertising class,” said Cook. “The thing I like about advertising is that it covers a wide variety of topics and skills.” Some of the topics covered in the five days of workshops included marketing research and strategy, creative concepts, art and graphic design, creative writing, human psychology and buying behavior, strategic communication, teamwork and brainstorming, presenting, and client relationships.

The week culminated with slideshow presentations from each group, followed by feedback and discussion. Thanks to the use of Lifesize technology, which virtually links the classrooms at IVA, all the students were able to watch each presentation in real time yet also maintain the required social distancing. The marketing campaigns created by each group were “amazing,” said Cook. “I was so immensely proud.”


Cook, who is a Greenville native, brought along three friends to help lead the workshop: Christian and Emily Smith and Genna Battagin. Cook is attending Brigham Young University, finishing her four-year degree in communications with an emphasis on advertising. Christian is a psychology student at BYU, and Emily is a BYU graduate in psychology. Battagin, also an Indian Valley native, attends the Otis College of Art and Design.

Local families provided food and lodging for the team members, but they donated their time.

“What a week!” said IVA site director and teacher Ryan Schramel. “Ms. Cook and her team did an outstanding job with the project-based learning, as did our students. The level of creativity displayed across the groups was incredibly fun and inspiring.”

“I had such a blast,” said Cook. “The week seemed to fly by. At the beginning of the week I was worried that the material was above the students’ heads. It truly was college-level material. But all of us were astounded how well they grasped the concepts. Additionally, they were extremely engaged the whole week.”



Owners of the following local businesses donated their time to participate as clients: California Gift of Music, Carey Candy Co./Quincy Provisions, Coppercreek Camp, The Dojo, Indian Valley Fitness, and Myers Ranch. Schramel extended his thanks to these business owners for their support.

Amy Carey, of Carey Candy Co./Quincy Provisions, said she participated because she believes “it is important to share my business experience in any manner than students are interested. I am happy students are getting a snippet of business needs, challenges, successes, etc.”

She described the experience as “refreshing,” and reported that the students were engaged and “alive.” “They asked questions, took notes, and truly gave me eye contact. While the last may not be a big deal, you would be shocked at the number of applicants that cannot make eye contact!”

Carey also said she was impressed with the way the students were separated between classrooms, yet participating together via the videoconferencing technology. Carey said that she’ll be looking into using at least one of the students’ suggestions: using texting as a form of communication for selling products. “I need to explore this,” she said.



Cook reported that she was inspired to provide the project-based learning experience by an opportunity she herself received at IVA.

“When I was in eighth grade I was given a creative workshop by art and design college students,” she said. “For the first time I realized that I could be a creative when I grew up. For the first time I felt smart. I chased the feeling from that workshop and found the BYU AdLab. Now I’ve signed a job at a competitive ad agency in Dallas, Texas.

“I really wanted students to know that there are so so so many options out there for careers and that you really can love what you do.”

Plumas Charter School also operates learning centers in Quincy, Greenville, and Chester. For more information, visit

Ingrid Burke is the public relations specialist for Plumas Charter School.

Members of the hypothetical advertising firm Bad Adz prepare to present the advertising campaign they designed for their “client,” Indian Valley Fitness. From left: Mallory Tyler, Isabella Barnes, Aidan McIntyre, and Lewis Carmichael. The Indian Valley Academy students had participated in a week-long workshop. Photo by Ingrid Burke
In presenting the ad campaign they created for Quincy Provisions, the members of the hypothetical advertising firm Distanced wore aprons in keeping with their client’s production of deli items and baked goods. From left: Carson Goss, Owen Joseph, and Savana Hymas. Social distancing was achieved at Indian Valley Academy by means of Lifesize technology, which linked the classrooms and allowed all students to watch each presentation. Photo by Ingrid Burke
This ad by the hypothetical firm Butin Partners for Myers Ranch, which offers vacation rentals, is intended for placement on billboards along congested Bay Area highways. Indian Valley Academy students conducted market research to determine what would attract visitors to Plumas County. Image courtesy Indian Valley Academy
The Indian Valley Academy students in the hypothetical ad agency Bad Adz use word play in this print advertisement they developed for Indian Valley Fitness. They built on the idea that customers want to work out as a way to relax after a long day at work. Image courtesy Indian Valley Academy