Last Friday, May 12, the Tullahoma Educational Foundation for Excellence presented a grant check for nearly $38,000 to Tullahoma High School for the purpose of implementing a “media arts production facility.”
The $37,815.28 will be used to create a state-of-the-art facility that will be akin to a “real-world news facility,” Jim Henry, the president of the foundation told The News.
The facility, according to Henry, “will permit THS students to operate a modern media facility which will function similar to a real-world news facility,” and allow the students to take their first steps into the world of multi-media journalism.
The benefits to having such a facility, said Henry, are multiple.
“First, it will help students develop the skills necessary to operate a media production facility, to enhance their ability to get jobs in that field or gain an early advantage for college-level training; and second, it will provide much better communication facilities for Tullahoma High School to circulate information in a more productive and enjoyable manner.”
THS currently produces a daily news and announcement program called “TTV” that is able to be streamed online at each teacher’s leisure and convenience.
The daily news program is supervised by instructor Aaron Miller, who also heads the THS theater class.
“It’s a media arts class, they meet first period every day,” said Rose.
Rose couldn’t be more excited for the opportunity to expand the media arts class at THS.
The filming of the daily news show takes place in the former English computer lab, which was emptied when the school began using Google Chromebooks.
“When we went to the Chromebook initiative we didn’t need as many computer labs anymore, so when they pulled the computers out of here we said, ‘Hey, we have a studio,’” said Rose.
The studio is currently set up with a green screen background behind a table and two chairs surrounded on all sides by several light stands.
The grant money, said Rose, will be used to upgrade the lighting and filming equipment to produce a more efficient and streamlined product.
“What’s going to happen with the grant money, is one of the things we’re going to get is a ceiling grid where we can put our lights on,” she said.
With the ceiling grid, the hazard presented by all the stand lights’ cables will be eliminated, as all the lighting will be secured from up above, giving the studio more space in which to operate.
In addition to the lighting grid, Rose said the school will be purchasing a TriCaster, a machine that assists in the production of live news broadcasts just like “TTV.”
The school currently borrows equipment from Channel 6, Tullahoma’s own broadcast channel through Charter Communications.
THS seniors Barrett Talley and Meghan Lowe are also excited to have the new equipment come in.
“It’s astonishing; it’s exciting; it’s wonderful,” said Talley.
Having the new equipment come in after they’ll have left THS is bittersweet for Lowe.
“It’s nice that we helped get this money for the rest of the upcoming underclassmen that want to be in this class, and it helps them produce better quality content,” said Lowe.
“I think it’s nice to know that we helped, but it’s kind of sad not to be able to use it,” she said.
Akil Hicks, who will be a senior next year, is happy to know that he and those interested in the class for next year will be able to “make it look as good as possible.”
“I’m glad to know that we’re going to have some more stuff to use and just be better in general,” he said.
With the much-needed upgrades and equipment purchases, Rose said the school will be able to deliver a much more streamlined product.
In addition to improving the overall quality of “TTV” daily announcements, Rose mentioned the possibility of expanding the show into the world of academics as well.
“We can also see some potential there for actually going into classrooms (and) recording teacher classes,” said Rose.
“The idea has been thrown out to have ‘Teacher TV’ — the idea is that we could go into a classroom and record a lesson, and a student who is homebound can access that through YouTube,” she said.
Recording certain classes could allow homebound students and those in alternative school to access the lesson material and still receive important instruction out of the classroom.
“They could actually see the lesson that’s taking place in the classroom,” she said. “It’s really exciting.”
For now, though, Rose is just focused on getting the software and equipment purchased so that it will be ready for use for next school year.
“First thing that’s going to have to happen is we’re going to have to get everything installed,” said Rose.
“Having everything fully operational is probably going to take a couple of weeks after school starts to do that,” she said. “The kids will be in there learning the mechanics.”
A ‘generous community’
Rose had nothing but thanks for the members of the foundation for their belief in the students who run the program.
“Tullahoma is such a generous community when it comes to our schools,” she said, “and to know that we took an idea and we were able to begin to get it off the ground,” was something that rendered Rose speechless.
“That the Tullahoma Educational Foundation for Excellence has come along and said, ‘We’re going to turn your crop duster into a 747,’ that’s pretty exciting,” she said.
Having the foundation support the school in the form of a $38,000 investment means the world to Rose.
She said having that kind of financial support is a testament to what’s happening at THS.
“I think it’s an affirmation that we’re doing good work here, and I think it’s indicative of the community and the school’s commitment to moving forward with technology,” said Rose.
The school is “trying to be out there on the cutting edge of what’s in the digital age, because we live in a digital society; people want to see things,” she added.
Erin McCullough may be reached by email at email@example.com.