Clements High School is part of the Fort Bend Independent School District in Sugar Land, Texas which is a suburb of Houston. Vastly multicultural in population, the school is known for its quality academics and annually generates an average of 35 National Merit SemiFinalists. The school began its broadcast classes seven years ago.
SVN: Tell us about your background and how you decided to start teaching TV/Video production?
LC: My name is Linda Carroll and I have been teaching at Clements High School for 14 years. I have a degree in journalism and a masters in secondary education. I also teach at the Art Institute of Houston part time. It was my principal who asked me to teach broadcast. I was already teaching journalism and sponsoring the school newspaper. My background is in print journalism. I had never even held a video camera! That was seven years ago, and believe me, there has been a big learning curve. I listened to veteran broadcast teachers, attended workshops, and read everything I could get my hands on about video. But the best teachers I have had have been my own students. I learn something from them every day.
SVN: How did you obtain initial funding for your program? How do you fund the class now?
LC: The school district initially funded our program by giving us two Sony cameras, two tripods, a sound board, two lapel mikes, a light kit, and a mixer. We were also given a budget. That budget has progressively gotten smaller over the years, until we decided that if we wanted to grow, we would have to do fundraising. Our principle fundraiser for the past five years has been Clements Idol, a takeoff on American Idol. It is a talent contest in which the paying audience is the voters. We award the winner and runners up with trophies and a t-shirt, so the cost of the event is minimal. It has been a very popular event.
Last year we sought and found a corporate sponsor who donated new equipment to us in exchange for a ten second commercial (Brought to you by______) at the beginning of each show. This year, we received cash donations from one individual and one company.
SVN: Did you have equipment available?
LC: Yes, we do have equipment available, but of course, we have a BIG wish list!
SVN: How many kids are in the TV/Video Production classes? How is it broken down? Is it a multi-year program?
LC: I have three classes of approximately 20 students per class. Each class is responsible for a ten minute show, and they are aired on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. We put them on the school’s intranet and the shows can be accessed on each teacher’s computer and aired on their projectors. We tape the shows so that teachers have the prerogative of showing it any time during the day.
Our school offers Broadcast I, II and III, and they are full year programs. Students must have had basic journalism or have participated in their middle school broadcast program in order to be a part of our classes.
SVN: Can you tell us a little more about the sessions: How long are the classes? How many students? What types of projects?
LC: Our classes are 55 minutes long each day. Since this is a short time, there is a lot of before and after school work required.
In addition to their regular assignments, the students are required to produce one special project every six weeks. We research contests available to their age groups and they are required to pick one and prepare a detailed storyboard. Their assignment due dates are always a good while ahead of the contest entry deadline. If they choose, they can then enter their project in the contest. They are required to do at least three psa’s per year, and their final “fun” project is a music video.
SVN: How many kids to do the morning news broadcast? Do you also do a weekly broadcast? Special events coverage?
LC: See a previous answer for this
SVN: What jobs do the kids do? Do the kids rotate through on-air talent and crew positions or are they “hired” for a specific task?
LC: Each class has two producers and these students are chosen from senior students. They remain producers all year long. Otherwise, the positions rotate every three shows. Specific crew positions include: 2 anchors, field reporters, field camera, film editor, equipment manager and teleprompter, show director, special projects producer, hall cam film, and hall cam edit.
SVN: Do students audition for on-air positions? No
SVN: Do they write the content? Yes
SVN: How long does the show run? 10 minutes
SVN: Do you submit programming to independent contest such as those sponsored by StudicaSkills and SchoolTube TV? No
SVN: Can your broadcast be viewed outside the school? District-wide? Local cable access? On your school/district web-site?
LC: No…only through our school’s intranet
SVN: Do you have an equipment list you can share with our readers?
SVN: Have any quick start tips!
LC: Find your most talented, hard-working students and reward them with titles. Let them take on a lot of the day to day responsibility. You will be surprised at how well they do the job, and most importantly, the kids get to claim ownership of their productions.