By Frank Vascellaro, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — When Gov. Mark Dayton took office Monday, he called on every business in the state to adopt a public school. An innovative idea to some, but for folks at a Minneapolis school, it was just business as usual.

Advertising executives have been conducting class at Minneapolis South since 2007 as part of a pilot program that’s helping kids and adults, and spreading to other schools.

Kids putting up posters and setting up fundraisers happen at every school in the country, but the display at Minneapolis South High School is different. It’s part of a PR campaign developed in a unique advertising class.

“If you go to college, you pay for classes and tuition to reach the caliber of expert that comes into my class for free,” said South English teacher Sharon Rush.

Five days a week, students at South meet at The Brand Lab, which is taught by Rush and advertising professionals, like Joe Weismann and Mark Benninghofen of Shout Radio Productions.

“I enjoy it more than learning from a book,” said Senior Abdullahi Farah. “We’re actually having people who work in an industry I want to work in, so that’s something I enjoy.”

And that’s the goal. The Twin Cities advertising community reaching out to high school kids to spark a fire.

The Brand Lab started at South in 2007, and is now in seven schools. It’s an elective at South, which means a chance to earn English credit and practical experience.

“Definitely address your audience like  specifically when you’re doing a campaign or when you’re talking,” said Junior Charlie Metcalf when asked about the top thing he’d learned. “Just be loud and like focus on them.”

But while the students learn about advertising, their teachers learn some valuable lessons as well.

“As we spend more time doing what we do,” said Benninghofen. “We get more and more fatigued or whatever based on years of repetition. And it’s really, really fun to see that new energy coming toward you, and they’ve got their own really cool new ideas.”

The Brand Lab program also includes field trips, internships, and even college scholarships. It’s funded by businesses and agencies from the Twin Cities and plans to expand nationally.

WCCO-TV’s Frank Vascellaro Reports

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