McElroy grants schools broadcasting equipment

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"Our goal with putting any technology device into the hands of students is that they become “producers” and not just “consumers," said Superintendent Shane Wahls. "I am grateful to the staff that wrote these grants so that we can provide students with even more opportunities to develop their 21st century skills." Pictured using laptops are, from left, Alyssa Hefel, Marissa Meyers, and Amanda Auer. (Press photo by Molly Moser)

By Molly Moser

Clayton Ridge Middle and High School students will soon be broadcasting live from their classrooms thanks to a grant from the McElroy Foundation via Keystone Area Education Agency. Instructors Cheri Werges, Mindy Reimer, and Nicole Shaw worked on grant applications to provide both campuses with equipment including a videocamera, interview microphone kit, sound mixer, teleprompter, floodlights, green screen, and all the associated cables. 

“The broadcast center will allow for more student-centered learning and innovation. Students will not only create newscasts, broadcasts, and projects, but also collaborate, edit and produce, and showcase their projects to an authentic audience, widening the relevance of their work beyond the walls of our school and even into our community,” said Werges. 

According to Shaw, the project was inspired by a collaborative effort with MFL MarMac and Wartburg College last year. “Last December, MFL MarMac invited us to collaborate with them and Wartburg’s KnightVision at the basketball quad at MFL MarMac against our Clayton Ridge Eagles to provide a live stream of the varsity girls and boys games. I took three seniors to MFL MarMac. Students were exposed to broadcasting in a professional light. We set up all the equipment, selected positions to fill the needs of the broadcast, and interviewed players. Students ran cameras and the switchboard under guidance of Wartburg students and Professor Travis Bockenstedt, who runs KnightVision. We were in the midst of our bond issue here at Clayton Ridge, so students used MFL MarMac’s broadcast center to produce commercials promoting the bond,” Shaw explained. 

“While at MFL MarMac, I talked with faculty members Melissa Haberichter and Angie Killian about the broadcast center. They said Wartburg’s Travis Bockenstedt helped them decide the equipment they would need and they filled out a grant of some sort to get the equipment. I talked with Mindy Reimer as soon as I got back the next day, telling her about the experience, and made the decision that I would apply for the McElroy grant this year. Melissa and Angie shared the list of equipment they received from their grant and Mindy and I tweaked it a bit to get some additional equipment we thought would be beneficial.”

The new equipment provides exciting opportunities to Clayton Ridge students, who can begin using, editing, and producing professional quality videos, newscasts, and presentations. Both the high school and the middle school each received $952 to fund the new broadcast centers. At the middle school level, students may use the broadcast center for video production in a wide range of subject matter, including weather reporting, interviewing, school promotion, a time travel project in language arts, digital storytelling in all subjects, reporting on historic events or even generating commercials for anti-drug week.

Shaw, who teaches high school English and speech, is already planning a broadcast speech activity and will incorporate the broadcast center into many lessons and units. “I would love to see a journalism/broadcasting class as an elective for our high schoolers,” said Shaw. “Our students are the media everyday with social media; it would be beneficial to give them professional experience with high quality equipment.”

The Clayton Ridge School District is committed to providing students with technology to enhance their learning and achievement, as demonstrated by the 1:1 computing initiative for grades three through 12. The new broadcast equipment complements those 21st century learning objectives, which already include hardware like MacBooks and MacBook Airs, SMARTboards, Projectors, Flip-cams, and iMovie software. Werges stated that the McElroy Grant funded video creation as a school-wide tool for powerful reflection, self-evaluation, student directed learning, active engagement, and school promotion. 

“Students are slowly finding out, especially my speech participants. We are planning on using the equipment to produce a TV news broadcast for large group speech contest. Students who know are excited, but I think the real excitement will come when the equipment arrives and we get the studio set up,” said Shaw. “The possibilities are truly endless!”

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