12/13/12 As the emphasize on Indiana schools to graduate students with college preparatory or career skills increases, a vocational offering held at Plymouth High School could be the answer for students pursuing either pathway.
The class, taught by Plymouth School’s teacher David McKenzie, is offered through the North Central Area Vocational Cooperative. This is the second year that the Radio and TV Broadcasting classes have been under the Cooperative umbrella.
McKenzie began teaching Broadcasting at Plymouth when he came to the school in 2000 after teaching in the Wabash area for several years. By opening up the classes to North Central Area Cooperative, students from Argos, Culver, John Glenn, Knox, North Judson-San Pierre, Oregon Davis, Triton, Union North, Rochester and Plymouth high schools can enroll in the offering.
According to McKenzie, Broadcasting has been a very popular elective. He said, “Now that students in Plymouth and other schools have access to their own Mac Books (computers), they can do more editing at home.” Students learn skills such as camera use, reporting, sound board operations and many technical aspects. Many of the students film and edit videos from music concerts, winter plays, award programs, basketball games and commencements, just to name a few. Real life applications also include broadcasting announcements live or uploading to You Tube. McKenzie said, “We can archive information that parents may want to view or that students need to review.” Students who have mastered advanced skills are assigned projects from school administrators and community clubs or businesses. Some of the real life projects include video conferencing and training films for area businesses. Locally, Bay Valley Foods had students film employee training videos that are used for new employee orientation.
Although the majority of the projects are joint projects teaming up several students, each student receives an individual grade. McKenzie said that each student is assigned a particular responsibility within a project. He said, “The team will get a group grade and individual grades depend on teacher observations, peer evaluations, and self reflections.”
McKenzie said, “PHS was on the forefront of high schools utilizing this kind of education.” He pointed out that students are involved in active, independent learning.
McKenzie attributes the successes of students to their hard work and enthusiasm for Broadcasting.
Regina Warren, now an English teacher in Plymouth High School, used her high school camera training to perform camera work for a South Bend television station to earn extra money for college expenses.
Other students including Ray Holycross (WGN-Chicago), Brent Freyenderger (ESPN) Katie Day (interviews for TV show in California), and Tyler Langdon (actor) have attributed much of their successes to the program. McKenzie said, “Currently student Mirih Bowen is working at WTCA AM1050.” He said, “Those working in TV and movies have said they were far ahead of other people as they were working themselves up to more advanced work.”
Former students Nancy Tyree and Brent Kinney were able to secure positions at Indiana University in the school’s broadcasting studios during their college years. McKenzie said Kinney was originally told he couldn’t work in the studio as a freshman until they found out how advanced his skills were from his high school training.”
Former PHS student Andy Langdon is attending Loyola Marymount University in the Los Angeles, CA area where he is studying film. His skills landed him a trip to Japan last summer where he did filming segments for the University. Former students Declan Fox and Colton Maddox were accepted into Northwestern University programs for lighting.
McKenzie said the TV studio at PHS was a considerable investment with equipment not available at many high schools. He said, “Our equipment is among the top five in the state.”
McKenzie was able to use his own experiences in high school and college to obtain the specialized license to teach the vocational class. In addition to teaching the Broadcasting classes, McKenzie continues to be the head coach of the PHS Speech and Debate Team. He has been coaching for approximately 30 years. He said, “I still enjoy being around the kids.”
Carol Anders Correspondent