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Member Kudos: Montrose Digital Media TV, Montrose Community Schools

2015 Education Excellence Award Recipient

DashBoard, Sept. 9, 2015

The 20 recipients of the 2015 MASB/SET SEG Foundation Education Excellence Awards are some of the greatest examples of unique and innovative public school programs in the state of Michigan. Over the next few months, MASB will share the details of each program from their applications, presented in alphabetical order by district. This week we highlight Montrose Digital Media TV at Montrose Hill-McCloy High in Montrose Community Schools.

Description: This program is unique because it introduces students to up-to-date digital technology at all levels—basic to advanced. The goal of the program is to give the students exposure to what 21st century digital media professionals do for a living.

We work hands-on with Apple video editing software and Audacity audio editing software. We also utilize proprietary Playon Sports (TV) and Meridix.com (radio) software to broadcast our events. We operate predominantly on a learn-by-doing model and provide the students with opportunities to use Windows and OS platform applications. It is fast-paced and fluid. We start teaching in the fall with football games and continue until we bring our audience commencement ceremonies at the end of school.

We reach thousands of people with our radio and Internet TV broadcasts and at least give the students a real-world look at a possible career choice. Not many high school classes can say that. We also give students an opportunity to earn money by contracting out to independent production companies to announce games or operate Internet broadcast equipment.

Funding/Resources: We currently self-fund the program through advertising sales, grants and gifts. Our budget this year was over $7,000. We received grants from the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association and the Montrose Blueberry Committee.

We raised over half of our budget from ad sales to local community business partners. We also received an anonymous gift from a local resident for $500. MDMTV is also a member of the Student Broadcast Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization that offers students opportunities to broadcast at professional and college venues and the opportunity to use high-end equipment.

We broadcast through the National Federation of High Schools Network, part of the Michigan High School Athletic Association TV Network. Our program also enjoys the volunteer services of media professionals who have been in the news or sports business for decades. Some are former students and some are friends of the program. 

Outreach: The Montrose Digital Media TV program is both a class and an outside-the-classroom experience. Several of the students I have interacted with have gone on to study broadcast media at various colleges and trade schools. Some have gone on to successful careers in the field.

The media business IS literally communication. By its very nature, it is a creative, collaborative endeavor. I teach the students that they must work in teams. A crew consists of a producer, technicians, grips and on-air ‘talent.’ The emphasis is on teamwork. In the class students learn that no production, whether sports, news or features (radio or TV) can be produced effectively by one person. We stress teamwork and collaboration in the planning and implementation of all productions, whether it is a National Signing Day show, a choir concert, a football game, a public service announcement, commercial or our own Friday Show. We do the same for both our Internet TV and Internet radio productions.

Critical thinking is essential because of the nature of the constantly changing applications we use. Students must practice the basics they have learned, and then apply them to all upgrades of audio and video editing software and broadcasting interfaces. I am amazed at their ability to interpret, extrapolate and adjust ‘on-the-fly’ to changes in applications. 

Results: Program achievement, student enthusiasm, jobs and college study are my metrics for success. Last year, the Michigan High School Athletic Association TV Network named our program School Broadcast Program of the Year. The National Federation of High Schools Network also named us the NFHS Network School of the Week in the second week of March in 2014. Later that month, we were invited to produce live radio broadcasts at Michigan State University’s Breslin Events Center for the MHSAA Radio network’s coverage of tournament basketball. My students also shared a broadcast of a Detroit Tigers vs. Cleveland Indians game in April at Comerica Park.

For the second time in as many years, the students also broadcast the MHSBC Hall of Fame All-Star Game in July at Comerica Park. These productions were offered to us because of the quality of work the students produced throughout the year covering our schools athletic events and cocurricular activities.

In June, the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association invited three of my students to join their organization. They subsequently awarded MDMTV a $2,000 grant. Just last month we were awarded a $1,000 grant by the Montrose Blueberry Festival committee for our coverage of school and community events.

I am proud that I have a couple of former students who are currently employed in the news business around the country and others in college studying careers in media. I look forward to seeing more of my students making a living either in front of or behind the camera/microphone. 

Additional Information: In an era where the focus, funding and assessment in public education are geared heavily toward STEM, we have developed a program that utilizes the talents of a wide range of students in a fun and exciting way. They use their writing, organizational and technical skills in a fun atmosphere. They also get to see how this area of study could actually become a career. The kids are proud to be part of this program. I am especially proud of the diverse population of students who wear our MDMTV shirts!

Program Coordinator: James Kitts, Teacher, jkitts@montroseschools.org

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