The promise of being able to work from a new 2,500-square-foot studio has had some of the school’s broadcasting students volunteering during the summer to have it ready for them when they start school Aug. 8.
The possibilities of what the new space could mean for the school’s broadcasting program has teacher Gwen Shroyer making goals alongside his students.
“There’s still a lot to see through,” Shroyer said. “But I’m very appreciative of the space.”
Teachers at Bradley Central have been rearranging their classrooms to allow more space for certain programs, and that has resulted in more space for the broadcasting students.
Construction-related classes that were held in the space broadcasting classes will occupy this fall will be held in another part of the school where classes on topics like cabinetry are already being taught.
The broadcasting students most recently occupied three rooms — three separate ones for a studio space, a control room and a classroom area. Now, those rooms will be used for engineering and robotics classes.
“We’re just trying to increase the class sizes to give our students more opportunities,” Principal Todd Shoemaker said.
The hope, Shoemaker said, is that giving more space to career and technical education students will give them the chance to gain more experience.
Shroyer said the new broadcasting space is large enough to be used as a studio, a control room and a classroom — “almost like having a soundstage instead of a studio.”
Though he said he did not learn of the location change until about the beginning of July due to some last-minute changes in another department, Shroyer and his students have been working for weeks to get their new studio ready to go.
Anywhere from six to 10 student volunteers have shown up on several summer days to clean and rearrange furniture and equipment to have the studio ready for school.
Shroyer said he has been impressed by his students’ willingness to help, and he is hoping that them having helped will make them feel like they can “take ownership” of their news coverage and other projects.
The studio is expected to be an ongoing project.
When the space was first made available to him, Shroyer said it was in need of some cleaning, new paint for the walls and new flooring to replace the existing bare concrete.
The teacher and his volunteers have also been working on the area where the student news anchors will be delivering the news. A desk will sit in front of a new backdrop that he and the students have been looking into making themselves.
Though work remains, the space’s current bare bones appearance already offers something students didn’t have before — windows and outside doors that make it easy to carry camera equipment to other parts of the campus. Before, students had to weave their way through crowded hallways to get to locations like the school’s auditorium and athletic fields.
One obstacle for getting the new space ready has been that it is not air-conditioned, Shroyer said. While it does have heating, windows and a door, he said it remains to be seen how the lack of central cooling will affect the students and their electronic equipment as the space goes from being used more like a garage to being used like a newsroom.
Because it was a change that came about over the summer after the new fiscal year had begun, Shroyer said he was told there was no money in the school’s budget for improvements to the studio.
Shoemaker said part of the school’s budget for the year is going toward making security improvements.
“It’s going to take some time to get everything together,” Shroyer said. “I’m going to have to be resourceful and maybe ask the community for help.”
Even if the first semester in the new studio has some challenges, the teacher stressed his attention will be focused on helping students improve their broadcast journalism skills.
Currently, the students produce short daily news programs shown in school and streamed online under the name “Vox News.”
Vox is the Latin word for “voice,” and the student news organization is known as “the voice of Bradley Central.”
“Vox News in the Morning” and the afternoon show “Vox News at the Bell,” both produced by students in the school’s broadcasting classes, will be joined by a new show this fall.
There are four levels of broadcasting classes at the school.
Broadcasting 1 and 2 teach basic skills like writing and editing. Broadcasting 3 students take on the challenge of putting together a daily newscast to be played in school and streamed online.
This September, Broadcast 4 students will take part in a new “work-based learning” initiative. A partnership with a local cable channel — WTNB channel 5 — will give students the chance to run a real news show.
Shroyer said students will begin putting together a weekly 10-minute show to update viewers on what is happening at their school.
His discussions with the channel have indicated that it could eventually grow into a 30-minute show that has students focusing on news around Cleveland and not just the Bradley Central campus. Students would be allowed to go off campus to cover community events and other general interest news.
While students would begin with “soft news” rather than “hard news” stories, Shroyer said having them cover local events and interviewing people who are not their classmates will give them a better taste of what it is like to practice journalism.
“That gives them the exposure of going out and covering a news story,” Shroyer said.
While he often focuses on the technical aspects of broadcast journalism like shooting and editing video, he said students need to know the importance of telling the stories people actually want to hear.
That goal, he said, requires an emphasis on writing scripts for their newscasts both in school and in the community that grab attention without actually ordering the viewer to pay attention.
Whether they be sharing what is going on at an event or are beginning to delve into a story that has many different sides to it, the goal will be to communicate what is going on in “captivating” way.
“They’re not going to write ‘attention seniors’ to lead a story,” Shroyer said. “Our writing is as big as the editing.”
To further emphasize the importance of being able to tell a news story through writing, Shroyer said another goal is for the school to eventually start a student newspaper.
While Bradley Central has had school newspaper in the past, it does not currently have one.
He stressed that students like the ones he teaches could actually be journalists someday, and he believes it is important for them to receive the opportunities they need to practice their craft and learn to do it well.
Student Zayne Bunch, one of the Vox News anchors, said he has learned a lot about the broadcasting field so far.
“I love it,” Bunch said. “It seems like something I could possibly do.”
He said he has enjoyed using various tools like cameras and social media to share news with people at his school, and is looking forward to being part of the new community news broadcast.
Having students share sentiments like that is one of the main reasons Shroyer said he is “excited” about the opportunity being given to the students by WTNB.
In addition to the partnership with WTNB, Shroyer said he has also had the help of volunteers from local colleges and church media departments.
Shroyer expressed hope the community will continue to embrace the students as they begin to tell the stories of things happening away from campus. He said he would welcome invitations for students to cover events beginning in September.
“We want to be an open door,” Shroyer said.
He hopes that will lead to students further “taking ownership” of their learning by coming up with creative ideas for news coverage.
Despite the challenge of renovating it, Shroyer said he was “very appreciative” of the new space and the opportunity to grow into it, and the school principal said he was happy that had been a possibility.
“We’re really excited about it,” Shoemaker said.
Shroyer said he would welcome any assistance people might want to give as the broadcast studio’s renovations continue.
For more information about broadcasting at Bradley Central, contact Shroyer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-476-4401. Vox News can be found online at www.voxnews.net.