Bearcats On The Big Screen: Training Students To Handle Media Production
By Todd Kleiboer
Senior Ava Gibson always had a love for performing, and she channels that passion into anchoring CATS News, a daily news broadcast made almost entirely by students.
“Anchoring is a blast,” Gibson said. “Reading the teleprompter is like a little game.”
Below: Ava Gibson, left, and Braylee Shearin, right, anchor the Feb. 7, 2022 CATS News.
Whether they’re the anchor in front of the lights or the operator behind them, Sherman High School students are learning the ropes of the media production industry under A/V Production teacher Kelly Walton.
Gibson started the program her sophomore year and learned the basics to programs used in A/V Production. Her junior year was her first year working on CATS News where she picked up editing and presentation skills.
“I knew I wanted to be on TV, and I wanted to be in front of the camera,” Gibson said. “Even working behind the camera was so fun in getting to have hands-on experience with everything.”
Walton also teaches students professional terminology and the inner workings of audio/video such as signal type and resolution. She also learned the difference between shooting or recording on different devices.
“It teaches them why a video works, how it works,” Walton added. “It teaches them how you’re seeing what you see when you watch a video or a production of some sort.”
Students work with every type of audio/video equipment, from DSLR cameras to industry-standard microphones and studio cameras, and they put those skills into practice in producing CATS News.
“Hopefully, next year it will be 100% student-produced, led and directed,” Walton said. “At the beginning of the year, I outline my goals of what I want CATS News to look like and then help them get into a routine of producing the program. Now, they can pretty much do it by themselves.”
Having that hands-on experience gives Bearcat graduates a head start in the industry, Walton said, as they already have the experience of handling the equipment and creating a polished product.
“It gives them the skills to enter the workforce as a production assistant,” Walton said. “It’s a professional term for jack-of-all-trades in audio-video production because they learn a little bit of everything.”
And Bearcat alumni have gone on to find success in the industry, Walton said, with some finding their career niche in media production.
“I have one student who works for a small production facility in Austin,” he added. “There’s a former student that is working in the audio recording industry, and another that does multimedia production within a standard business.”