Read All About It: Video Classes Produce the School News

By Hasti Ghasemi Vaghar, Current Staff

Three years after COVID-19 restrictions halted them, video announcements are back at the West Bend High Schools.

The announcements, which involve student hosts sharing recent school news and updates about athletics, academics, clubs and weather, are produced by students in the advanced video production and digital media capstone classes at WBHS. These videos are supervised by Michael Bentdahl, East High School technology teacher, and the plan is to share a new video with students most Fridays.

The first video aired March 3 and was co-anchored by East senior Delanie Heinen and West senior Olivia Walker. They are among a rotating cast of news readers.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to have this shown to the school because  it’s more personal than having a random person reading it over the announcements,” Heinen said. “I was nervous about it. I’m not going to be on camera as much as other people but when I am on camera I think it’s going to be nerve-wracking, especially the first time, but I’m excited about the opportunities that come with it.”

Students in Advanced Video Production and Digital Media Capstone classes practice for the video announcements. Photo courtesy of Michael Bentdahl.

The video announcements started in 2014 but were stopped in the 2019-2020 school year, when the school was shut down due to the rising COVID-19 cases. The project was put off for the following two years due to the issues with physical spacing.

“It’s a tight studio and we needed to keep our distance,” Bentdahl said. “That’s why we’re back up now.”

In addition to spreading school announcements, the main educational purpose of this project is to provide the opportunity for students to explore an interest in broadcast film. Often students in media classes would tour one of the local TV studios, such as FOX6 and WISN in Milwaukee. However, these studios still have spacing restrictions and don’t want people visiting their studios. Therefore, reviving the campus video announcements creates an opportunity for students to see what a career path in this field looks like and determine what they can do in the future.

Greyson Degroot works on the DDR machine behind the scenes. Photo by Hasti Ghasemi Vaghar, Current Staff.

In addition to speaking in front of the cameras, students partake in many other roles that remain hidden behind the scenes. Switching between cameras, controlling the sound, instructing the speakers which cameras they’re facing and doing DDR and animation are some examples of responsibilities held by students.

“The hardest part is probably timing the script to when we switch the cameras because we don’t know how fast the people out there (in the studio) are talking,” East junior Greyson DeGroot said.

Video announcements are posted with the Friday Scoop, a weekly presentation about upcoming school events that are shown during homebase. Prior to COVID-19, video announcements were shared through email. Bentdahl believes that the Friday Scoop presentations are more effective in distributing the information.

“This year it is only (during) the second semester but in future years, I hope to start sooner,” Bentdahl said.

(Top image: Three students prepare for the March 3 video announcements in the WBHS studio. Photo courtesy of Michael Bentdahl.)

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