Student-run news takes school by storm
Published 12:00 am, Friday, November 3, 2017
WESTPORT — Standing in front of the wide green screen, with bright lights are several students of the Staples High School news cast and crew.
The ‘Good Morning Staples,’ show is a full studio production that airs during the beginning of the school day twice a week for the students and faculty of Staples. After airing for 17 years, this is the first time the show is being done as a full studio production — prior to this fall — the show was done through pre-produced packages that were linked together.
“There’s a lot of interactive technical skills you have to have to produce a show like this,” Justin Nadal, teacher of television, broadcasting, and film at the high school said. “It took us six weeks to teach these students what a show like this looks like and how to come together as a team to make it work.”
Although it is a class for the fall semester, students have come to find that the group aspect of the production goes a long way to bringing a clean finished product to the school, Nadal said.
“Understanding the language that goes on,” he said. “Understanding that elements that are closed. The names of things, simple things, that you wouldn’t think about. So that’s the book of it.”
The class meets to shoot a show twice a week, after shooting is finished and final edits are cleared by Nadal, the show is aired the following morning during the homeroom period of school. The one day turnaround is much different than the two weeks it took to have a completed show with the pre-produced packages style that had been done.
But that quick turnaround has not been without several growing pains that each students had to face whether they are on-air talent or behind the scenes working the camera or dashboard.
“It was tough at first,” senior Alex Chema said. “Some of our cameras were malfunctioning so we were all really blurry. That was rough and reading off teleprompters and getting used to tri-caster and all the things that go into creating a successful TV show.”
As the growing pains continued through the first couple of shows, it became a learning experience for all the students, but it took a singular poor effort to set the team up for success.
“There was one show in particular that I think a lot of us remember,” senior Olivia Ronca said. “We had a lot of difficult and we had to stop many times. We had to refilm a bunch of things, but after that show it all came together . We realized how important it was, after we watched it and realized how poor quality it was, so from then on we worked harder and better as a team to produce the best show we possibly can.”
That was the turning point of the class. The shows have been sharper and have begun to flow in the way that Nadal said he wanted to have.
“In the beginning I think they thought I was crazy,” he said. “But they also recognized how serious I was about making it a certain way. You have to walk a fine line between being strict and being tough, while also keeping their spirits up. I was trying to have it happen because you don’t want to lose your students, your team in the process. If you set them back too far, then they won’t be invested in what you’re trying to do.”
While the students have begun to get the hang of the equipment and the procedure that come with putting the show together, it is the extra work that come from finding stories to air that has provided an added challenge that some did not see coming.
“I think when we don’t have a long time to prepare for a show because we film in class,” junior Calum Gordon said. “We have to do a lot of work outside of the class and that’s normally takes a lot of time and struggle to get the work done. It’s hectic to find stuff to put in the show and get a script all organized and ready for class the next day.”
Despite the “controlled chaos” that comes from putting together the show twice a week, students have jumped on the bandwagon at their chance to create pieces for sports, news, and weather for the student body. Junior Jacob Blaustein serves as the director and he said being able to come into the class and have the freedom to produce a show has made the experience worthwhile.
“This is the first year this class is an actual class here,” he said. “We’re all learning as we go, there really is no process that we were taught in the beginning. We have to figure it out ourselves and work with each other to stay organized.”
But it has been teamwork that has helped to create the final product at the high level that each student feels proud of, junior Sydney Panzer said
“We’ve definitely all come together a lot,” she said. “In the beginning, we didn’t know how to work together as well because we were used to making our own videos and doing our own thing. But after the first couple of shows we all have really come together and just did it for each other. We all want it to be good.”
The mentality has been adopted by each student in the class, and also by the student body that has responded positively to the work of the class.
“It’s so fun to produce a show that the students actually really like,” junior Ida Nevstad said. “I’m on it two days a week so people come up to me and say ‘we see you on the weather and your show is really cool,’ so it feels really good to be apart of something that the whole school sees and enjoys.”
But the students are mindful of the position that they are in with being able to learn these skills, and they are not taking it for granted.
“I think some of us don’t realize how lucky we are to be in this situation,” junior Charlie Norman said. “Sometimes people may overlook how lucky we are to be able to air a show of this quality.”