Maricopa High School is located in Maricopa Arizona a small bedroom community about 20 minutes south of the Phoenix Metro Area.
It blossomed during the 2005 housing boom growing from about 1,000 to 50,000 residents in just a few years. It was also the face of the housing crisis that followed, as massive foreclosures caused huge fluctuation in the student population for several years.
The town has since recovered and the school is experiencing steady growth with 1700 students enrolled this year. The school has an amazing mix of diverse students with Blacks, Whites, Asians, Hispanics, and Native Americans each making up a significant portion of our student population. The school combined with our JTED, CAVIT, offers our students over twenty choices in CTE classes. The broadcast Journalism program is a part of that program and I am very happy to have the opportunity to take over that program this year.
SVN: Tell us about your background and how you decided to start teaching TV/Video production?
BC: My background is in IT, however I always have been facinated with video production. While teaching IT junior high at both Southwest High School and Desert Wind Middle school I was able to convince my principal to let me take over the daily announcements. At both schools this balloned into a full fleged video production class. After seeing what we had done with the program at Desert Wind Mr. Rick Neilson then provided me with the oppurtunity to take over the program here at Maricopa High School.
SVN: How did you obtain initial funding for your program? How do you fund the class now?
BC: My supervisor Mr. Rick Neilson has done an excellent job melding several funding sources to ensure we have state of the art equipment to run our program. Currently our funding sources are the Perkins Grant, Central Arizona Valley Institute of Technology, and the Maricopa Unified School District matching funds.
SVN: Did you have equipment available?
BC: I was fortunate to have a fully lab of 30 Imac’s running OSX 10.8, with Final Cut Pro 7 on them. We have a New Tek Tricaster and are purchasing another so we can keep one in the studio and use the other strictly for remote broadcasts. We recently purchased the EZ News rundown software which has been fabulous. It has really simplified and helped us coordinate all facets of the daily broadcasts. We have 6 Sony HD cameras, three in studio and three for remote shoots.
SVN: How many kids are in the TV/Video Production classes? How is it broken down? Is it a multi-year program?
BC: We have two production classes currently with about 40 total students. Almost all of which are first year students. We are redoing some of our class structure to meet with state requirements. Next year we will have an introductory course for journalism, graphic design, and photography. After that students can choose which path to go. I plan on having a broadcast Journalism 1 and 2 courses. The first course will cover the basics including video editing, interviewing, camera operation, and will be responsible for the school announcemnts, and will create a PSA and news packages. The second year class will be responsible for creating a weekly variety and sports highlight show as well as creating commercials for local business as well as some short movies for submissions to film festivals.
SVN: Can you tell us a little more about the sessions: How long are the classes? How many students? What types of projects?
BC: Classes are currently 58 minutes, however I am attempting to get a two hour block for the second year students. I listed the projects in the answer above.
SVN: How many kids to do the morning news broadcast? Do you also do a weekly broadcast? Special events coverage?
BC: We have four anchor teams that are responsible for one broadcast a week, two teams from each class. Because we have many early release days on Wednesday we don’t do a broadcast that day. Anchor teams are in groups of two and each team has a studio team of 4 people that run the tricaster, produce the show, and run the teleprompter and cameras. We have reporter and camera teams that travel to sporting events and local events around the community and put together news packages and conduct interviews. We also tape our drama department performances. We also have a school channel from the local cable network and we send our work to them for broadcast to the community. The different anchor teams work very well, as they compete with each other to top the last broadcast. They each do research and bring in their own quirks and features to make their broadcasts unique, such as “German with Julia” and “Vine of the Day”
SVN: Do your students capture other school events? Sports? Assemblies? Board meetings? Musical Performances?
BC: We cover many school and community events as mentioned above. The district office tapes and broadcasts the board meetings.
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?
BC: At the beginning of the year we had a producer from Channel 5 News in Phoenix AZ come and speak to the class about how a news studio works. She brought in a org chart and went over each job in detail. We then created our own org chart and job descriptions. I had each student submit a letter of interest and hired accordingly. We have had to make a few adjustments to this as the year has progressed, but it has worked out surprisingly well to this point.
SVN: Do students audition for on-air positions?
BC: Yes they do. I put students in groups of 4 for their first broadcast where two ran the cameras and tricaster and the other two wrote a dummy script and were the on air talent. According to these screen tests I choose my first group of anchors.
SVN: Do they write the content?
BC: Yes, the anchor teams use the EZ News software and create their own scripts and conduct their own research. I have found that going only once a week allows each team adaquate time to research their topics and produce their shows. It also keeps the teams fresh as they don’t have the pressure and grind that a daily show can put on them.
SVN: How long does the show run?
BC: The shows are typically 8 minutes long.
SVN: Do you submit programming to independent contest such as those sponsored by StudicaSkills and SchoolTube TV?
BC: I plan to do more research on this and participate as soon as possible, however this being my first year my focus is to produce a quality product and make sure my students are properly trained and prepared to compete in these events.
SVN: Can your broacast be viewed outside the school? District-wide? Local cable access? On your school/district web-site?
BC: The program is posted on both our school tube and youtube channels and is available outside the district. We also post a copy on our new student website rampagenews.org as well as run it on Oribtel 18 the local school district channel.
SVN: Do you have an equipment list you can share with our readers?
BC: 30 27 inch Imacs OSX 10.8 w/ Adobe CS 5.5 and Final Cut Pro 7.0
2 New Tek Tricasters
6 Sony HD Handycam HDR-AX2000
EZ News Software Suite