From day one, students in the newly established broadcast class at Waxahachie High have hit the ground running with video cameras in hand.
In the first two months of school, broadcast students have provided a variety of videos, ranging from the promotion of the Battle of 287 between Waxahachie and Ennis to teachers who learn trendy dance moves.
The first-year program functions through the English department and is headed by Conrad Bates, a 2010 Waxahachie High School graduate. Bates studied marketing at the University of Texas at Austin but always had a passion for entertainment, film and video. Bates most recently taught writing to special needs students at Howard Junior High and spent two years marketing for Frito Lay.
He said the primary goal for the 30 broadcast students is to teach them to become storytellers and showcase their hidden talents across Waxahachie High School.
“I feel like they have turned into the face of campus slowly but surely,” Bates said. “I don’t necessarily want them to be the face of campus but the students in their stories to be the face. But, they are the ones going out there, we are always running around, and I want them to find the next big story.”
The program has quickly evolved to incorporate a variety of extracurricular organizations and students on campus with the culinary department, band, Cherokee Charmers, athletics and theatre. Right now, the students are learning all the components needed to capture a story from scratch to completion.
Bates exercises a hands-on classroom as he encourages students to find and pitch their own ideas, or he will assign a topic. Students usually work in small groups or as a class and finish projects bi-weekly.
“What I love about this group of students is that they can be scrappy,” Bates described. “I think the best way to learn is to be hands-on — give them a camera to shoot something. They’ll come back, and I’ll tell them what to correct and how to correct it, and they’ll go re-shoot it.”
Because this is the first year for the broadcast class, no prerequisites were required. However, next year, students will be required to have taken at least one year of journalism or yearbook. Some students have had zero experience with video or as on-screen talent.
WHS junior Robert “Aden” Lonergan said he has experience as a cameraman. For one summer, Lonergan worked at AirHogs Stadium, the home of the Texas AirHogs Baseball Club in Garland, and regularly edits video for a few YouTube channels.
“I think it’s really cool how camera work allows you to capture a moment and have it forever,” Lonergan explained. “I think it’s also cool within editing that you’re able to modify that moment like it was how you experienced it the first time.”
Lonergan took journalism his sophomore year, which consisted of minor editing. Through the broadcast class, he has been able to work with talented classmates on and off screen, gain interpersonal skills and refine his editing techniques.
William Powell, a senior at WHS, said has been enrolled in the broadcast class for a little over a week and, so far, it is nothing like he expected.
“I didn’t ever think about being in broadcasting, but since I have been in it, it has opened my eyes a lot to new things, and I enjoy being in front of the camera,” Powell elaborated.
While on-screen, Powell focuses on maintaining his natural personality to feel comfortable on camera. He is also enrolled in the yearbook course and has been involved with several on-camera experiences that have included sports and trendy topics.
As for the new program, Powell shared it has picked up momentum as videos get more views and are shown during sporting events and give the students exposure.
“It feels good to see our hard work pay off,” Powell expressed.
There are a variety of roles students play in the class such as filming, editing, on-screen talent and script writing. For senior Gracie Herrin, videography is her favorite.
Last year she took yearbook and thought the broadcast class would be the ideal opportunity to advance her skills. So far, Herrin has filmed a video to raise awareness on littering on campus. She disclosed the video has not been published yet.
“It feels really good to be part of that impact in the community and the school. It’s a good feeling to make a difference,” Herrin emphasized.
Then there is WHS junior Claire Beddingfield, who has never taken a media-related class. The class, so far, has allowed her to expand on a hobby, though. Beddingfield can be found encouraging classmates on camera and photographing action shots under the Friday night lights.
Beddingfield described Bate’s teaching style as hands-on and flexible, which she said is ideal, as it allows all students to experience the many steps and roles that go into broadcast.
The ability to interact with the entire school, become a well-known face at campus events and record those memories initiated her interest in the broadcast class. So far she has filmed, “Dancing with Indians,” the "Rumors" video and a hype video for football. She also takes photographs and videos of the varsity football team.
“I think they [broadcast students] play a very large role, especially with social media and getting the word out on different events like the football games or getting kids that aren’t necessarily involved, involved in something and showing their face to the community,” Beddingfield said.
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Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450