By Jennika Baines
Sun Associate Editor
Most teenagers are clued-in to the tricks of the trade with television programs. They know the music, the quick-moving camera work and the advertisements are geared toward attracting their attention.
But at Bishop Grimes Prep, students are learning how to take control of this medium and use it to their advantage.
BGTV offers students a chance to make their own TV news program which is aired in classrooms throughout the school each morning.
As part of a class with technology teacher Debbie Foster, students have a chance to learn every part of producing a television show. By the end of the semester, students will have experience working on the cameras, reading the news as anchors, interviewing and writing segments and producing the show on computers.
“They rotate so they each get a feeling for each position and what positions they like most. That way they’re really able to find out what they’re good at,” Foster said.
Working together in the school’s television studio, students in the class produce a show that provides up-to-date news for the school as well as sports results, weather announcements and plugs for upcoming theater productions or other student events. There are also special public service announcements the students produce on topics like bullying and texting while driving.
The end result is a professional program that provides students with real experience and a greater awareness of their talents and interests.
Senior Sara Cuddahee is on the production staff of BGTV, and she said the experience has inspired her to study communications at SUNY Oswego in the fall. Cuddahee said she hopes to be a news anchor one day.
“I never ever did anything like this, but I just love doing interviews and I love seeing people doing the stuff behind the scenes with the cameras and lights and everything,” she said.
Her co-anchor that day, senior Mike Timpano, said he wouldn’t be studying communications at college, but he did enjoy the experience of producing BGTV. “I just like the overall feeling of being in front of the camera announcing the news,” he said. “Just that feeling of being in the studio under the lights — it’s cool.”
Of course, not all students are as comfortable in front of the camera. For these students, there is plenty of behind-the-scenes work to be done.
Zack Underwood, a junior, said he prefers setting up shots and editing the clips. “When you edit you take out the clips where people make mistakes, which is normal because the camera makes people nervous,” Underwood said. “You can raise voices if they’re too low or add effects, add music.”
Senior Morgan Brennan, 17, said she likes the opportunity to be creative. “We all have different perspectives and we all have different stuff that shows what we’re like,” she said.
Joseph Denmar, a junior, sees BGTV as just the beginning. He said he plans to go on to a career making movies with a future in writing, directing and maybe producing. “When you create a new movie, it’s like creating your own world,” he said.
He joked that when he wins an Oscar someday, he’ll think back on his time in Foster’s class. “Mrs. Foster is really good at teaching us stuff,” he said. “It’s a good opportunity. You really get to express yourself, and you can go farther if you have talent and you have confidence.”
Bishop Grimes has its own plans for the future as well. Details of a summer TV camp run by news anchor Dan Cummings for students in grades four through eight will be announced soon. The school is also launching a campaign to raise $150,000 to upgrade technology throughout the campus. For the television studio, there are plans to get new high-definition cameras, a portable boom microphone, to upgrade the software and to upgrade the Apple Mac computers used to produce the show. The hope is that one day the school will be able to offer students a journalism department.
To help with both the campaign and to plug the school, a former student who worked on BGTV, Alex Cartini, is putting together a video clip of the school which will be available soon on the school’s web site.
For more information and for clips of BGTV’s productions, visit the Bishop Grimes web site at www.bishopgrimes.org.