CENTER— Center teacher Paul Steward’s video production class is preparing students for the media marketplace, offering them a chance to practice their on-camera presence in class by producing a video newscast for their fellow students at the school.
Former video production teacher Stefan Welsh accepted a teaching position in another state last year opening the position for Steward. Steward was a science teacher at Center before becoming the video production instructor. A visit to his classroom Tuesday found students performing tasks that are familiar to TV newsroom employees.
Steward says he started this year’s class teaching camera etiquette and how to manage camera software. “Talking in front of the camera is one of the biggest obstacles to overcome,” he observed. After shooting their on-camera broadcast, students then learn how to edit the sequences in a software program called Final Cut Pro.
Photography skills, using mikes and a mixer and practicing on-camera presence are the primary steps in the learning process. Once students master these steps, they begin taking pictures and fine-tune their interviewing and on-camera reporting skills. Steward explained that the reporting is done by shooting against a “green board,” where any background can be inserted to suit the project at hand.
One of the most important skills Steward tries to instill in his students is how to work together effectively, he said. After teens are accustomed to the class work flow, they rotate tasks to learn all aspects of the broadcast media profession.
“At the beginning I gave them things to cover but as time went on, I let them choose what to do,” Steward explained. “Now they come up with their own [ideas], and I kind of just leave them on autopilot unless they get stuck.”
A typical Viking newscast is set up behind the school logo or enlarged photos from a variety of school scenes. The broadcasts include various items of interest in school news, a weather report, and sports news. Students interview school sports figures and other persons of interest, also specials.
One special report students produced was a mock lockdown scenario, to inform fellow classmates what to expect during the event. The segment was conducted in conjunction with the school’s safety manager Steve Martinez, Steward said. Another interview involved new students arriving at school last September and Center homecoming activities.
Students also produced another special report on the 100th anniversary of Center schools, using the old Center school building as a backdrop for their production. How to test well was the subject for another report. On Tuesday, photographers were out taking photos of classmates celebrating “pajama day,” a spirit week activity before testing next week.
When asked whether they are considering careers in broadcast journalism, one student confirmed he was looking at a career in sports broadcasting. Others said they simply took the class as an elective, but some just commented they were still “weighing all their options.”
“I hope these kids are gaining life skills,” Steward said in summarizing the classroom visit Tuesday. “I want them to be able to work as a team when they get their jobs in the real world.”