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Archbishop Carroll High School unveils Jim Vance Media Center, continuing news anchor's legacy by training future journalists

Joined by Archbishop Carroll High School representatives, along with members of Jim Vance's family and other guests, Archbishop Wilton Gregory, center, holds the scissors for the March 12 ribbon cutting for the new Jim Vance Media Center at Archbishop Carroll. (Archdiocese of Washington photo/Jaclyn Lippelmann) 

Archbishop Wilton Gregory blessed and cut the ribbon March 12 on the new Jim Vance Media Center at Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington, D.C., that houses an advanced program for students studying journalism and media.

“Here may they (students) discover the Lord Jesus who is the Truth and may they share that Truth through the technological advances that are available to them at this school,” Archbishop Gregory prayed in blessing the new center.

He added that the facility “is intended to help (the students) discover and perfect the skill of broadcasting the truth.”

Archbishop Gregory joined school officials, students, alumni, benefactors, members of the Vance family and local media celebrities for the inaugural opening of the center.

The Jim Vance Media Center and program are named after Jim Vance, a veteran NBC4 news anchor in Washington who died in 2017 at the age of 75 after a brief battle with cancer. For many years prior to his death, Vance sponsored an annual scholarship at Archbishop Carroll High School, and offered support to Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian Parish’s Community Action Group program providing outreach to families affected by drug and alcohol abuse. In 2012, Vance received the Archbishop Carroll High School Hall of Honor Award.

During the media center’s dedication, Vance’s widow, Kathy Vance, announced that the family would continue the scholarships because “his heart was in this school and still is.”

A mural at the new Jim Vance Media Center at Archbishop High School depicts the longtime NBC4 anchor. (Archdiocese of Washington photo/Jaclyn Lippelmann)

The 5,500-square-foot, state-of-the-art media center includes broadcast and recording studios, editing booths, suites, and master control rooms for students in the program.

The Jim Vance Media Center and program are made possible through a $5 million donation from Steven Newby, a retired stockbroker and a longtime benefactor of the school. It is the largest gift in the school’s history. Newby is neither Catholic nor a Carroll alumnus.

“As a stockbroker, investment is what I do,” he said at the dedication. “So, I do not consider myself a benefactor, I consider myself an investor who is investing in the future. This is about getting these scholars ready for the future and honoring and recognizing the good man Jim Vance was.”

The opening of the media center, Newby added, “is one of the biggest thrills of my lifetime, maybe even the biggest thrill of my lifetime.”

Archbishop Carroll High School is a Catholic, college preparatory, coeducational school that was founded in 1951 in the nation’s capital and is sponsored by the Archdiocese of Washington.

NBC4 anchor Doreen Gentzler speaks at the March 12 inauguration of Archbishop Carroll High School's Jim Vance Media Center, named for her longtime colleague and friend at that Washington, D.C., TV station. (Archdiocese of Washington photo/Jaclyn Lippelmann)

Roger Fairfax, chairman of Archbishop Carroll High School’s Board of Directors, called Newby’s gift “an investment in the future of high-quality journalism.”

A four-year course of study for students, the Jim Vance Media Program is designed for students to learn journalistic principles, practices and techniques.

“It is important to know that our future is secure, and we have students who are learning the craft that will help them tell our story tomorrow,” said Larry Savoy, president of Archbishop Carroll High School.

Larry Savoy, the president of Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington, D.C., speaks at the inauguration of the school's Jim Vance Media Center. (Archdiocese of Washington photo/Jaclyn Lippelmann)

Students study the variety of careers available in the field of journalism: print, broadcast, engineering, photojournalism and digital and social media. They also participate in journalism-related field trips.

The highly competitive program – only 20 incoming freshmen are accepted each year – officially began in December 2018.

Dr. Cherie Ward wrote the curriculum for the media program and designed the layout of the media center. She called the program an “elite, premier and comprehensive program that welcomes only the best of the best.”

Over the course of the four-year program, Vance Scholars will study sports journalism, public speaking, mass communication, fundaments of print and broadcast journalism, digital media, photo journalism and other classes. They will also participate in internships.

“This program and this facility are for young minds to be formed for tomorrow,” said Ijeoma Okere, one of the students in the program. “I have learned what goes into the art of journalism, and I understand it more.”

Students participating in the program are called “Vance Scholars” and receive a four-year full-tuition scholarship to Archbishop Carroll High School. While in the program, they must maintain a cumulative quarterly average of 3.0.  

“I appreciate that people have invested in our future, and I like that we have to uphold certain academic standards,” Okere said.

Fellow Vance Scholar Ryan Lynch said, “I thank God that I have the opportunity to go to such a good school with such a program.”

Archbishop Wilton Gregory offers a prayer of blessing at the March 12 ceremony inaugurating the new Jim Vance Media Center at Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington, D.C. (Archdiocese of Washington photo/Jaclyn Lippelmann)

Prior to making his mark in Washington, D.C. as a newscaster, Jim Vance taught English at a public school in Philadelphia, the metropolitan area where he grew up.

Imani Vance, one of Vance’s daughters, called the media program and the media center “a perfect amalgamation of his (Vance’s) careers.”

Kathy Vance said she was grateful that the program honors her late husband and urged students to “use wisdom, words and wonder to advance the truth.”

“This is a wonderful legacy and tribute to my husband, our children and the family,” Vance said. “We are grateful and honored that Vance’s passion for journalism and education will live on through the Vance Scholars.”

Among those attending the inaugural opening were several media friends of Vance. Donnie Simpson, host of The Donnie Simpson Show on WMMJ-FM (Majic 102.3 FM) and a longtime friend and colleague of Vance, said he was impressed by the program and “seeing these wonderful students here today gives me such hope for the future.”

Radio host Donnie Simpson, a longtime friend of Jim Vance, speaks at the ceremony inaugurating the Jim Vance Media Center at Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington, D.C. (Archdiocese of Washington photo/Jaclyn Lippelmann)

Doreen Gentzler, an NBC4 anchor who was a co-anchor with Vance for more than 25 years, said “nothing would have made him happier” than to see the media center at the school because “everyone knew how deep his commitment was to Archbishop Carroll.”

Gentzler said Vance “loved lifting up young people … to help them get better and stronger and smarter at what they do.”

She challenged the Vance Scholars “to carry on the values that were so important to Jim Vance.”