TROJAN NEWS: CHHS students start morning broadcast

Published 8:57 pm Monday, January 27, 2020

When the school news was being read out over the announcements each morning at Charles Henderson High School each morning, few students were actively engaged and listening.

So a group of student aides at the school decided to change the approach and begin filming a tri-weekly broadcast to be sent to students and faculty.

“Some of the students saw on Facebook where another school in Dothan had posted a newscast and they thought ‘we could do better than that,’” said Sharon Rhodes, CHHS media specialist.

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Senior Danny Truong co-anchors the news alongside senior Hannah Huner, and also anchors the sports segment.

“We had already been producing informational videos for the school so we thought, why not start a news network?” Truong said. “We thought it would be fun. We’re mostly seniors and we’re basically trying to spend our last semester hanging out and doing something like this that isn’t busy work; it’s something we enjoy.”

The videos are published to Youtube on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and distributed to students, faculty and staff every morning. The teachers play the broadcasts, which are typically about 5 or 6 minutes long, for homeroom classes each morning at 8 a.m.

That gives the broadcast group two days to turn each video around from production to publication.

The first step in making the broadcast is coming up with a script, which Truong said starts with Rhodes.

“She sets up a script and we add on from there,” Truong said. “The first day we’re usually working on the script and getting everything ready and doing interviews ahead when we can. Then the next day is for shooting and editing.”

That’s where senior Ayush Patel comes in as producer.

“We started off using iMovie but we’ve recently been able to upgrade to Final Cut Pro which has really opened up more that we can do with the program,” Patel said. “I mostly deal with editing the video together and creating the backgrounds for the weather and birthday slides.”

Patel said his work is made smoother because the group made the decision not to splice much video together, attempting to do everything in one take as often as possible to keep the process looking professional. Patel will soon have a bit more work cut out for him though as the group begins using a second camera to capture two angles during interviews and get both sides to present in broadcasts.

The use of a teleprompter has been essential for the class in staying on track when it comes time to film.

Senior Cole Curtis is one of the students in charge of setting up the camera and teleprompter and ensuring everything goes smoothly for the broadcast.

I have to make sure everything is zoomed in correctly, that the framing is right, and of course that the camera is recording,” Curtis said. “We have an app that allows us to paste the text for the teleprompter in and set a speed. Then while we’re filming, someone will be pausing the teleprompter if needed to make sure the anchors can catch up. It took some getting used to.”

Patel said the group is always proud to see their finished product shared out to the school.

“We all kind of feel proud that we get to create something that our school can enjoy,” Patel said. “This allows us to get information out more efficiently and people really pay attention to it more.”

The group continues to look for new ways to improve the quality of newscasts.

“We’re doing interviews right now mostly with coaches, but we’re trying to expand and integrate more teachers into the broadcast.”

Rhodes said the students are quick to learn and reach new heights.

“When we first started, it took three days to make one video,” Rhodes aid. “Now we’re down to 20 minutes to create a whole video. We had a lot of learning curves, but these guys grow every day. They come up with something new for every newscast. They’re sponges; they take it all in and feed it back out to this newscast.”

Rhodes said the next exciting addition is two new students joining the team to do book reviews.

Rhodes and the class gave special thanks to Principal Lise Fayson and the Troy City Schools Board of Education for supporting the broadcast and helping the group purchase the equipment to make the newscast possible. The newscasts can be viewed on Youtube by searching “CHHS Trojan News” or at the Youtube Channel “Trojan News Today Rhodes.”