Arabia Mountain High School, founded in 2009, is a magnet school for math and engineering.
It’s an LEED certified building, which saves money and resources and have a positive impact on the health of occupants, while promoting renewable, clean energy. The school wasn’t designed to have a video production class, but that hasn’t stopped the Rams. The program has grown since it started in 2010 and functions very well in its limited space.
Amy Mamane began her career in television and production in 1995 at WPTY ABC 24/WLMT UPN 30 in Memphis, TN. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism concentrating in Broadcast News at the University of Memphis while working full-time at the TV station. She has also worked in other areas of production as a writer, commercial voice-over producer and as a radio DJ.
In 2001, she moved to Atlanta, Georgia and published articles in a local magazine. She also voiced articles for the San Francisco Chronicle’s online content. Ms. Mamane started teaching Broadcast Video Production at Forsyth Central High School in 2007 and was one of the founding teachers at the brand new Lambert High School, teaching with state-of-the-art facilities and equipment. She taught at Rockdale Career Academy in Conyers, Georgia, where she helped RCA obtain industry certification in BVP — the first ever in the state of Georgia. She was also a co-advisor of SkillsUSA, whose broadcast and video production teams dominated at the state competition in March 2011 by raking in 17 gold medals. She accompanied the teams to the SkillsUSA national competition in Kansas City in June 2011. She came to Arabia Mountain High School in 2011.
Mrs. Mamane has two daughters and is getting a Master of Arts in Journalism from the University of Memphis in May 2015.
The broadcast program began the year after the school opened in 2009 with the help of a grant. The grant was sufficient enough to purchase several iMacs with Final Cut Pro 7, three Panasonic cameras, a broadcast switcher, and a backdrop. The district currently provides funding from Carl Perkins for CTAE programs, which allows for the purchase of new equipment and upgrades.
Arabia Mountain offers Audio/Video Technology & Film I, II and III. Each level is a year-long course that accommodates up to 32 students per class. Classes, for the most part, are seven per day, 50 minutes per class. However, there are designated weeks that run on a block schedule, which allows for more quality time in the studio or out in the field. Each level of AVTF is assigned various projects from PSAs to news reports to music videos. One of the more exciting projects is the Instagram challenge in which student groups develop and shoot a 15-second story using skills learned in class. Extra credit was given to students who took the Instagram challenge to show how they spent their snow day.
First period consists of advanced students who prepare and perform a daily newscast. Students take about 30-40 minutes to edit the script, create graphics, develop a music playlist, and prepare the studio. The script is automatically generated into a Google Spreadsheet from announcements submitted by teachers, counselors or administrators through a Google Form. The student producer edits the content to conform with broadcast style. Each segment of either provides content for their show or assigns another student to contribute.
Other segments are developed by various classes and are added on to the daily news throughout the day. Segments include daily entertainment, weekly History Facts (random lesser known facts about historical events), sports, Open Mic (students are posed controversial topics and discuss with an adult mediator), and Arabia Mountain Safari where a student goes out into the Nature Preserve on campus with a photog and tells the audience about the wild species all around (a la Steve Irwin style).
The newscast is designed to have enough crew to man each position necessary: anchor, camera operator/floor director, teleprompter operator, audio director, technical director and graphics. One group of students produces the newscast the first semester and rotates to another group during the second semester. Students are hired for a specific task that highlights their strengths. On-air talent are required to audition and must display a professional manner at all times. These students are competent writers, excellent speakers, and have an “I can!” attitude.
The daily newscast is recorded during first period and runs anywhere from 3-5 minutes, depending on whether it’s a slow news day or not. Since other segments are produced during different class periods, they’re recorded independently and added to the queue that plays on a loop 24/7 on the school’s broadcast system.
Students are responsible for capturing other school events such as sports, theater performances and any other major events on campus. Sometimes theater performances are captured with live switching and multiple cameras, sports games may include play-by-play announcers and reporters on the court.
The best way to quickly start up a program is to remain calm and think about what you want to achieve at the end of the day. If you want to do a broadcast to upload to YouTube, all you need is a camera, a mic, and maybe an iPad with a teleprompter app (ELITE Prompter syncs with an Adobe Story account, which is free). Google Docs is a great way for students to write and collaborate on scripts at no cost.