Some of the students who participate in the Brunswick (Ohio) Education Access Television video club do so simply because it is “fun.” But some are serious enough to use their membership to produce award-winning videos.
Rachel Williams, 10th grader and one of several BEAT managers, updates the BEAT Channel 22 CastNet message board.Photos courtesy of Brunswick Education Access Television “The BEAT” broadcasts seven days a week over Educational Access Channel 22, with most transmissions occurring from 9 a.m. through 11:30 p.m. Since 2000, more than 200 students in grades 6 through 12 have had the opportunity to write news stories, conduct on-camera interviews, edit, shoot and direct more than 1,500 programs that air on the educational access channel. In addition to the cable broadcast, the BEAT website offers scores of videos.
Becoming a BEAT reporter is a competitive process that requires students to apply with a teacher’s recommendation and go through an interview process. Once selected, a student is assigned a school in the Brunswick City School District, the “beat” on which he or she regularly reports.
The BEAT currently has 31 students. The time requirements force reporters to take their video club responsibilities as seriously as a job. That’s something Tyler Maruschak, a high school senior and fourth year BEAT reporter, has learned. “There is no doubt that the BEAT is a huge commitment. When I first started I didn’t see this as much,” he said, adding that he learned organization and time management skills from the project. “The BEAT has become a second job for me and I treat it as such,” he said.
The club offers students the opportunity to step into management roles during the third year. This what happened for Brielle Trussa, 8th grade student and third-year BEAT reporter. “In the first two years with the BEAT I was a reporter, but this year I am a manager, which means I oversee interviews and edit videos.”
John Wasylko, community relations director and video club co-advisor, stresses that the BEAT club is an extracurricular after-school program, not a formal class. It provides students with “the opportunity to be professionals, learn communication skills and express themselves,” he said.
MORE THAN A CLUB
But first-year reporter Megan O’Connor considers the BEAT more than a club. It is “not just an after-school program. It [involves] actually running a station,” she said.
Recent BEAT graduates, Brittany Lemmerman and Sean O’Connor, assist Rachel Williams, in the center, on a multi-camera HD-video shoot. The station has responsibilities beyond the club. The BEAT’s motto is “streaming video on demand,” and the number of videos posted on the channel’s website attests to how serious students are about producing content. The videos vary from Brunswick Board of Education meetings, sports shows, concerts and school news.
The school news program focuses an entire broadcast on one subject and includes interviews with faculty, parents and alumni.
In addition to work on programs that are broadcast on the education access channel, BEAT Club reporters can produce their own videos, some of which have received national recognition.
On April 16, the Media Communications Association-International listed the work of two BEAT reporters as worthy of receiving its 43rd Media Festival awards.
Rohan Srivastava placed first in the “Student Work” category, earning the MCA-I’s prestigious Gold Trophy for his music video “Gotta Keep Reading.” It was shot on a single day at the school district’s Kidder Elementary School and the student edited the project over a weekend.
Nicole Rhoades earned a Silver Trophy in the “Student Work” category for her recycling-awareness video, “Go Green Energy Team.” This video too was shot in one day; and she conducted all the interviews and editing.
“It speaks highly of our students,” Wasylko said, “that they produce award-winning videos, enjoyed by our community, on their own time.”
Asked to name a favorite part of the program, one student replied, “It has to be the opportunity to get out in the community and the school district and communicate with the teachers.” Having a role in the community, “I think that’s why reporting my stories are so much fun.”