October 21, 2014

AGS offers student broadcast program

By Kevin Bunch
Staff Writer | news@arenacindependent.com
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Au GRES — Starting this fall, students at the Au Gres-Sims High School have the opportunity to learn about broadcasting.

AGS, in conjunction with the Michigan High School Athletics Association (MHSAA) and the Michigan Interscholastic Connection (MIC) has received filming equipment and video/audio editing software, giving interested students the chance to learn how to film events and interviews.

“Students are learning about copyright law, interview skills, camera skills, and photography,” said Barb Richardson, who is teaching the media broadcasting class at AGS. “I’m really thrilled with it.”

Sparky Nitchman, general manager with MIC, said the program has been around in Michigan schools for three years, and started with the goal of teaching students how event broadcasting comes together.

“The program essentially provides value on two parts,” Nitchman said. “We give production software and filming equipment in the hands of students so they can go and get experience with production and filmmaking, and it gives the school a broadcast opportunity, to sort of take the roof off and showcase what they do.”

Nitchman said he approached Principal Chad Zeian in June about running the program at the school, and got a high amount of interest back. Nitchman said he then met with Zeian, Richardson, and Athletic Director Jeri Christie about the program before agreeing to set things up after the school had selected its new superintendent, Jeff Collier.

“I think it’s a wonderful addition to our classes,” Zeian said. “It’s a great way to get the idea of what’s going on around the school.”

Richardson said Nitchman helped her learn how to use the equipment and software over the summer so she could instruct her students, adding that she and her students are still in contact with him for any additional questions they may have.

The class currently has about five students, Richardson said, with a few from other classes who volunteer to help out when needed, such as when her students are participating in a sporting event.

Richardson said the students are responsible for recording events — whether they are sporting events, school events, or even interviews — and she helps clean them up and improve the videos before uploading them to a website set aside for the pieces, www.mhsaa.tv/AuGres.

“It requires a ton of effort from the kids outside of class,” Richardson said. “They’re learning video editing and audio editing, communication skills, public speaking, computer software, graphic design by creating logos; just all kinds of neat stuff.”

Nitchman said the school is committed to producing at least 24 pieces for the website, including four home football games, five boys basketball games, five girls basketball games, five other sporting events, and five non-sporting events.

Richardson said so far her class has posted the first AGS football game, an interview with Superintendent Collier, and a junior high football game.

Furthermore, Richardson said she is interested in posting videos of other upcoming events, such as band concerts and graduation ceremonies, and is looking into live streaming them — running a live feed to an online page for viewers across the world to watch. Her interest does not stop at the school walls, however, as she wants to see local businesses and community events highlighted with the broadcasting program.

Nitchman said the school’s cost for the program is $800 annually, less than the $3,000 other schools have had to pay.

“Previously, the cost to the schools was $3,000 annually, but that’s a drawback to Northern Michigan schools and small ones downstate. That was too steep a price with their budget and staffing cuts,” Nitchman said. “So (MIC) was able to offer the $800 program cost, and we’d foot the rest of the bill and make up the difference by selling online advertising.”

Nitchman said local businesses could use the videos as an advertising opportunity and as a way to publicly support the school and local activities.

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