Windsor Middle School Broadcast Productions class teams up with Town of Windsor to share the news and learn
October 22, 2016
The Windsor Middle School Broadcast Productions class is a near-professional operation.
Thanks to a grant four years ago from Friends of Weld Re-4, they have two sound studios, and their filming studio is complete with lighting, green screens and a teleprompter.
Thursday, Ellie Baatz, 13, directed the morning announcements, which will be cut together and shown in front of the entire school during homeroom on Oct. 25.
Every day, these morning announcements inform students of the day's lunch offering, the weather, students who have birthdays that day, sports and activity updates and feature stories on new scientific discoveries, how to execute a yo-yo trick and more. Already, students in this class understand the pressure of deadlines, capturing audience attention and the duties of sharing news.
““If they like the story, they’ll watch during homeroom. If they don’t they’ll pull out their cell phones and you’ve lost them.”Doug KathanTeacher
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The class recently paired up with the Town of Windsor to create video content for the town website and social media platforms. Nothing has been released yet, but students have started filming for the town and soon will have an even larger audience for their productions.
Ellie filmed 8th-grade anchors Breelyn Caffey and Baylie Weis on Thursday. It took a few takes before the shot was "gucci." Gucci is the new "O.K.," the girls explained.
Ellie said she imagines working at a professional TV news station is similar to what they do.
"I didn't know all that was involved watching the news before this class," she said. "They make it look so easy."
It's certainly isn't easy, they explained. The Broadcast Productions class is an advanced-level media class. Students have already been in media production classes for at least a year previously and showed an aptitude for the technology and reporting.
The students find stories, report on them, film them, and cut them together with graphics and music.
In the computer lab, which might as well be a newsroom, there is a section of students with headphones, creating music in Garage Band. Others are making graphics. What they don't create themselves, they know how to legally use others' images and content.
The class's teacher, Doug Kathan has many rolls: Editor, producer, creative director and more. His students have professional obligations and deadlines, but the school bell is a reminder that they aren't actually professionals.
Once the 3:05 p.m. bell sounded Thursday, Kathan's reporters, graphic artists and videographers packed up to leave. The room is then filled with half a dozen, "Mr. Kathan," calls. "Can you help me render this video?" "I haven't put the birthdays in yet." "Can you finish this?"
Kathan hopped from computer to computer, finishing up video packages so they make deadline.
"This class is 21st century learning," he said. "You have to read, write, create and that's what this class teaches. They have to collaborate, articulate and deliver news that people want to watch."
Kathan said the students pay attention to capturing their audiences.
"If they like the story, they'll watch during homeroom. If they don't they'll pull out their cell phones and you've lost them."
He said that the skills in this class are important, no matter what field the students are interested in.
Most students didn't say they want to continue in the industry, but enjoy the class. Many said they want to be doctors, lawyers, veterinarians, architects and more. A few, however have been inspired by this class and want to pursue careers in journalism or television.
Matt Hansen, 13, said he wants to stay behind a camera when he grows up, either taking photos or filming. He also suggested his friend, Cameron Killian, has a future in producing or editing video, though Cameron said he still doesn't know what he wants to do one day.
Breelyn said she wants to be a reporter some day. Her director Thursday, Ellie, said that her energy is perfect for the camera and is easy to work with.
"I like finding stories," Breelyn said. "I want to be a journalist because I love always learning and meeting new people."