Scott City students help pioneer digital broadcasting program




A year ago, Scott Holt was a fifth-grade teacher who occasionally shot and edited video of local school football games. Now, he is the technology integration instructor, teaching audio and video production and broadcasting classes to high school students at Scott County High School.

"... There's been a call from people outside of the community who like to watch our sports — sports is a big deal in Scott City — so we talked about doing live streaming, and then one thing led to another and the principal talked to me about going to the high school and starting a whole new curriculum, dealing with media," Holt said. "It started as one little seed that has grown into a tree."

The program began in August. There are 36 students in the two classes Holt is teaching, Audio/Video Productions and Media Broadcasting and Performance.

"When I talked to my classes at the beginning of the year, I told them we were going to be the pioneers," Holt said. "They're the ones helping me establish what we're trying to get going in Scott."

Prior to launching the program, Holt did a lot of research, both online and by visiting schools with existing programs in place, in particular, Garden City High School and Ellinwood High School. He is modeling the audio/video production from what Ellinwood is doing and broadcasting from what GCHS is doing.

Shelby McNutt, longtime broadcasting instructor at GCHS, said the main thing he tried to convey to Holt is that getting the program to where he wants will take time.

"I've got seniors, juniors — the seniors have been with me three years, the juniors two — so I've got them trained up to the expectations, to the equipment, to how we do things," McNutt said. "I told Scott, 'I'll share curriculum, that's no problem, but you need to understand my guys are trained up to it.'"

GCHS students produce live newscasts, which are aired on a screen set up in the cafeteria every day at lunch. McNutt said if Holt's students stick with the program for three years, they gradually will work their way up to doing live daily newscasts, as well.

Holt's students are currently producing newscasts on a bi-weekly basis.

"We're not doing live yet," he said. "Right now, we're doing bi-weeklies as we learn the ropes. We have to do a shoot tomorrow or Thursday, that has to be ready by Friday — it will actually be aired on Monday."

Before the newscast can be aired, the video must be edited by the students.

The students are providing live streaming video of high school sporting events, as well.

"We stream most of our sporting events. We streamed all our football, some of the volleyball, all the basketball, and a couple of wresting meets," Holt said. "We've actually streamed a concert, and we're planning to stream some more concerts. And then I've got to figure out how to stream baseball and track."

Both the newscasts and the live stream sporting events are aired on Scott City's local channel 12.

Overall, Holt said it has cost the school district between $30,000 and $40,000 to get the program off the ground, but much of that money has been paid back through grants given by the Community Foundation, Alumni Association and boosters.

"Some has also come from people buying commercial time on our streaming broadcasts.¬ We have a good number of viewers watching our sporting events, so I guess they figure what better place to advertise," he said.

Much of the costs associated with the start up of the program came from the acquisition of equipment, which includes professional camcorders, consumer-grade camcorders, teleprompters, tripods, studio chairs, audio equipment and an intercom system that Holt uses to communicate with students who are on-air.

In the studio, there is also a green wall, similar to green screens used by professional news agencies.

While providing daily newscasts is one goal Holt has for the program, the overall goal is to provide another career opportunity to students, or at the very least, offer them the chance to develop life skills they might not otherwise have the chance to develop.

"My classes are not about technology alone," he said. "It is about critical thinking skills, decision making, empowerment, ownership, community, and, of course, vision.¬ All of these things work together with the technology we have so we can hopefully put out a product that we all can be proud of."

Holt has plans to line up some scholarship opportunities with universities that offer broadcasting programs and said that, while the focus of the program itself is on media broadcasting, it's the exposure to different types of technology that he thinks will provide the biggest benefit to his students.

"Whether people like it or not, technology of computers, media, etc. is here to stay.¬ We need to make sure that it is in good hands," he said.

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