What started out as a small class teaching video production has grown into a full-blown high school production company at Zachary High School.
Appropriately called WZHS, 11th- and 12th-grade students taking the broadcast journalism elective learn about video editing and production, audio, how to be an on-air personality, news anchoring, commercials, scheduling, archiving, lighting techniques, filming and reporting the news.
Teacher Debby Lowery said the 10 students who make up WZHS film all home football games for the Broncos, as well as a “smattering of other sports,” all of the drama productions and musicals, pep rallies, homecoming videos and a host of school events, such as two recent videos — one filmed for Rollins Place Elementary and the other for the Lady Broncos softball team. Both groups are hoping to win contests, thanks to the WZHS-filmed videos.
Every Friday, the students are responsible for broadcasting a seven-minute news report.
“These students are highly self-motivated. They live, eat, sleep WZHS,” Lowery said. “They’re into what they’re doing because they all have an interest in some kind of broadcast journalism, whether it’s being a news anchor or reporter or the audio or video production side of it. When they don’t turn in a homework assignment, it affects an entire team, an entire production.”
Of the 10 students, four are considered senior producers — Jori Gardner, Lauren Lane, Keyona Meeks and Skylar Shaw — and take turns each week anchoring news segments.
To become a senior producer, the students had to master four different lessons, turn in the paperwork on the lessons, produce a music video and anchor a news segment.
“Like adults make news for other adults, we make news for other high school students,” said Meeks, who was recruited to work as an audio tech for the high school football “Game of the Week” segment by Cox. One of Lowery’s former students, Grayson McDonald, anchors the show.
Yet another former student, Jerad Daniel, who helped Lowery teach her first year of the WZHS class, is the older brother of current WZHS student Brynn Daniel.
“Literally, Brynn has been in the WZHS classroom since the age of 3. Jerad would bring her with him when he worked late and had to baby sit,” Lowery said. “I’m telling you, these kids love what they do, are very serious about what they do, and they’re great at it. This class is like a real-world, in-school internship.”
Though Digital Media I and II classes sort of lay the groundwork for the broadcast journalism class, students must apply to get into Lowery’s WZHS class.
“This is not an elective you take because you think it’s going to be an easy grade. Students take this class because it’s a career choice that interests them,” Lowery said.
“This class has grown, and I’ve taught myself over the years,” Lowery said. “Just like the students, I have to remain highly motivated as well. Just like we all must do in real life to be successful.”
To view some of the videos and work by the students, visit schooltube.com and search WZHS.