Inside A.J. Chambers’ class students stay busy.
Some are conducting interviews with students and staff around the school, equipped with a microphone and a tape-less camera. Others can be found in the classroom, editing videos on one of the iMacs or coming up with ideas for future stories and packages to put on the air.
The program is called Media Technology, and it is something that makes Summerville High School different from other schools in DD2; Chambers said Summerville is the only school implementing such a program.
And the program just keeps getting bigger.
“It has doubled in size and it’s growing even more for next year,” Chambers said.
Currently it is a two-year course, and students are responsible for airing the school’s popular Wave TV news broadcast on a daily basis. As of next year, Chamber said, it will be a three-year course.
“With this group getting bigger, and another fairly big group coming in next year, it’s going to continue to grow – which is really exciting,” Chambers said.
Right now 38 students are actively engaged in producing the show, which airs every day during second period. The class is going to have over 150 shows completed by the end of the year. All the shows are posted on the school’s SchoolTube channel.
Chambers has been instructing the class for five years. He feels the class is growing because the program has evolved to become more professional and students – particularly those interested in pursing a journalism career – are responding.
“I think it’s because we’re pushing it and our shows change so much that students recognize it as something they want to be a part of,” Chambers said.
The show itself covers topics including news, sports and entertainment, and students do special pieces such as music videos. Students act as anchors, camera operators, producers and more – everything needed to put the show together.
The program is also competitive in both journalism and film competitions.
“This has been a banner year for us,” Chambers said. “We have won or placed in every competition we’ve entered.”
This past year the students have earned a number of awards, including third place finalists for the South Carolina Young Filmmakers. They have earned titles through the South Carolina Scholastic Press Association including Best in State Broadcast, All-state Rating, Most Improved Broadcast, Sports-Superior Rating, Human Interest-Superior Rating, Graphics-Superior Rating and News-Superior Rating.
Chambers said competition videos vary on subject matter; the every-day show is tailored for the students, by the students, but journalism competitions examine more newsworthy content. Notable stories have included a texting-while-driving piece focusing on a student who flipped his truck; a piece on Andrew Sholtz, who came in for a couple of interviews after appearing on the “X-Factor”; and a story on a girl who flipped her ATV on Saw Branch Trail and later went on to graduate.
“Those were our big stories of the year,” Chambers said.
With DD2’s bond referendum Summerville High School is expected to get its own Media Technology facility, Chambers said, but he is not sure when that will happen.
Now the class works out of a large classroom that has been split in half: students have a news room where they work on their iMacs or work to plan out their show’s content. They have a makeshift production studio where they shoot the news anchor (at multiple angles, using one camera for now) and they also have an equipment room.
Graham Knode, a 10th grader, is finishing up his first year with the class, and said he enjoys the projects that they do – such as a music video he once worked on with an acoustic version of Miley Cyrus’s song “Wrecking Ball.”
“You get a lot of self-accomplishment from this class,” he said. “You get a lot of, ‘Wow, this is something I want to do in the future.’”
Eleventh-grader Kelsey Butler is the producer of the show and said she is in charge of everything that everyone is doing, and makes sure everyone stays on task.
“I’ve thought about going into broadcast journalism,” she said. “Even if I don’t it’s great working skills. I learn how to interact with everyone I come into contact with.”
Twelfth-grader Molly Moreland is going to be attending USC Upstate in the fall for broadcast journalism. She hopes to one day be a reporter for ESPN.
“This class has opened my eyes to my future career,” she said. “When I came into this class I didn’t want to do it at all, but it definitely changed my mind and broadened my horizons.”
Moreland feels not everyone may understand the hard work her class puts into the show, but they do appreciate what they do.
“It entertains them and it informs them,” she said.
Chambers is happy the program is growing because it means more opportunities for students to showcase their work. “I’m passionate about this,” he said. “I came into this thinking, ‘I want this to be better.’”