Traverse City East Middle School is located in Northern Michigan, near the beautiful Grand Traverse Bay.

The school hosts 940 sixth through eighth grade students. East Middle School offers music, art, theater, journalism, foreign language, and technology education electives, in addition to high quality core instruction. East Middle School is a great place to learn!DSC_0088_1

As part of our first ever LipDub contest, we had the chance to get to know Jody Mackey and her students quite a bit better. We thought we'd share this with you.

DSC_8544_1SVN: Tell us about your background and how you decided to start teaching TV/Video production?

JM: All of my journalism endeavors have been given to me. I have a Secondary Teaching Certificate with endorsements in English and Social Studies. My second year of teaching I was given the school newspaper and yearbook. I had no prior experience with these classes and felt very overwhelmed. But, after finding great organizations like the Michigan Interscholastic Press Association, and JEA, I was able to get connected with other new advisers and veterans who could help me. After attending JEA in Chicago a few years back with my principal, we decided to pilot a broadcasting class. From there it has taken off. I now teach two sections of Broadcast Journalism along with the yearbook and 8th grade History. I am now in my eleventh year of teaching.

SVN: How did you obtain initial funding for your program? How do you fund the class now?DSC_8545_1

JM: Funding has proven to be an issue, as is the case for many schools. Initially our principal gave us a 1500.00 start up budget, and we piloted our first class with one camera, a mini-green screen and Adobe Visual Communicator. We used to have to set up and tear down our mini studio in my classroom daily because my room was used for multiple classes. Since our humble beginnings, we have improved, but continue to struggle with finances. We’ve been fortunate to be awarded with several small grants and started a sponsorship campaign that has generated more revenue. Last year, we were moved to a location in our building so we have a regular classroom and a studio next door!

SVN: Did you have equipment available?

JM: When we started our pilot, we had no equipment. Today we are fortunate to have 6 consumer grade cameras and one used Canon GL2 that was donated to us. We continue to use Windows Movie Maker and Adobe Visual Communicator because of expense and ease of use.

SVN: How many kids are in the TV/Video Production classes? How is it broken down? Is it a multi-year program?

DSC_8566_1JM: Our program has 25 students, broken into two full year elective classes. We were just informed that we have two full section requests for next year, which would put us around 40 students!

SVN: Can you tell us a little more about the sessions: How long are the classes? How many students? What types of projects?

JM: East Middle School Broadcast Journalism classes meet daily for 50 minutes and many of our journalists return for study period for an madditional 40 minutes each day. We produce a weekly broadcast that includes two news anchors, and a sports anchor delivering our weekly announcements. We also feature two news or features stories within the broadcast –anything from a personality profile, to in depth coverage of a student issue, to funny parodies and psa’s.DSC_9056_1

SVN: How many kids to do the morning news broadcast? Do you also do a weekly broadcast? Special events coverage?

JM: We rotate our anchors, so that all students who want to do so have the opportunity, once they have reached an acceptable standard of professionalism. We have some special events coverage like a holiday special, end of the year special etc., but mostly we go up weekly on Fridays.

SVN: Do your students capture other school events? Sports? Assemblies? Board meetings? Musical Performances?

JM: EMS Broadcast journalists are required to produce two feature or news stories per marking period in addition to their rotation as an on air talent. We love the opportunity to film special events and sports, but our students are limited to events that happen on campus because they are not able to drive.

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?

JM: Our students learn all phases of production for Trojan TV. They learn to write, anchor, produce, edit, and create their own news and feature stories for use in our weekly broadcasts.

DSC_9049_1SVN: Do students audition for on-air positions?

JM: Initially, students do audition informally. If they aren’t ready, I let them know privately and help them to keep practicing until they are.

SVN: Do they write the content?

JM: We ask for annoucements through our email system and the assigned anchors for the week are responsible to turn those emails into a script for our weekly broadcast.

SVN: How long does the show run?DSC_9061_1

JM: Trojan TV is usually around 5-6 minutes, but as the school year progresses, we seem to go longer because our shows keep getting better and we are under the gun to get everyone’s work on air. Lately they’ve been around 8-10 minutes.

SVN: Do you submit programming to independent contest such as those sponsored by StudicaSkills and SchoolTube TV?

JM: We love contests! We submit to MIPA, SVN, Schooltube and this year we even tried a PSA contest on the signs of a stroke.

SVN: Can your broadcast be viewed outside the school? District-wide? Local cable access? On your school/district web-site?

JM: We have our own website on our East Middle School Homepage that is linked to our district site as well. We want to partner with our school district’s TV network, but we often run into size/quality issues trying to make that happen.

SVN: Where do you post programming? YouTube? Vimeo? SchoolTube? SVN-TV? Other?

DSC_9068_1JM: Due to district restrictions, our weekly shows are on our website only. We do submit applicable videos to contests on SchoolTube when required.

SVN: Do you have an equipment list you can share with our readers?

3 Canon FS 200 camcorders
3 Samsung camcorders (older)
1 Canon GL2
3 Microphones lavalier (Sure mics $ from a grant we received)
3 Handheld mics from B&H (inexpensive)
6 USB Mics for recording narrations into computer
10 computers – with Windows Movie Maker
3 Adobe Visual Communicator licenses
1 Giant Green screen
3 lights (old from the art department)
1 Allen & Heath soundboard mixer
12 SD Cards ( for use in our 6 cameras)
12 pairs of headphones (cheapies)
1 Lumix Digital camera (to take still pics) very old—donated

You can see more pictures of East Middle School as they filmed their winning lipdub in the JUNE issue of SVN!