At nearly 4 p.m. PST on March 18, Wellington C. Mepham High School seniors Lily Yepez and Hannah Broxmeyer emerged from the edit room at the 2023 Student Television Network’s National Convention to the cheers and applause of on their Bellmore-Merrick Broadcasting teammates and smashed the “uploaded” button on the team’s final contest submission of the weekend.
It was a journey of over 2,800 miles and four years in the making. Student Television Network is a nationwide organization of more than 600 schools that exists tosupport and encourage scholastic broadcasting.There were over 140 schools and more than 2,500 students in attendance at the four-day convention held in Long Beach, California.
“It was back in March of 2020 that BMB’s first trip to the STN convention in Washington, D.C. was the first event canceled because of the then just breaking pandemic,” explained program director Stu Stein.“Since then BMB students have participated in the event virtually but this was their first time actually making it to a convention in person.”
BMB’s students competed in seven onsite competitions including Crazy 8’s where the entire group working as a team had eight hours to produce an eight-minute “Morning Show.”
Teams of BMB students immediately set to work dissecting the prompt and searching for stories to report.
The “hub team” headed off to the iconic Long Beach Lighthouse to stakeout and set up a backdrop for the BMB anchors, sports report and weather.The “What is That?” team got an education on the financial system at a local Long Beach bank to prepare a report on the recent Silicon Valley Bank collapse and the live reporting team set off on foot from the Convention Center for Cambodia Town on foot for a three-mile walk for a story on the upcoming Cambodia Town restaurant week that celebrates the contributions the largest population of Cambodians outside Cambodia in the world.
“We have been researching Long Beach online for the last several weeks,” said senior Sean McQuillan, the program’s news director. “We wanted to be ready so we knew a bit about the area so we could generate our own story ideas once the prompt dropped.With 2,500 kids in Long Beach doing the same things we were, we knew we needed to be quicker than everyone else and different than everyone else.”
The students encountered and overcame technical issues and Wi-Fi connectivity problems to complete the project eight minutes before the contest period ended.
“The sense of relief was evident from the entire team as the tension melted from their faces, replaced with pure joy as they celebrated the week’s first successful upload,” Stein added.
March 17 saw four teams of BMB students each group functioned independently to craft their stories in the categories of Arts and Culture Feature, News Story, Short Film and Nat Package, a story that includes interviews, but no reporter voice over.
The groups moved expeditiously under faculty supervision throughout Long Beach visiting flood damage on the beach, a farmers’ market, a transit hub and more as they shot b-roll, interviewed Long Beach residents and crisscrossed the town looking for stories.
According to McQuillan the teamknew they “had to make decisions quickly.”
“Sometimes stories had to pivot and above all egos needed to be set aside for the team to succeed,”he added.
After three hours of editing, eight BMB students emerged from behind the curtain, not in the pairs that they went into the room in, but as one group.
“They each waited for the others to be done to come out together as one team,” offered Stein.
Lisa Kalish, a BMB teacher and one of the trip leaders, discussed the educational value of the experiential learning that took place on the STN trip.
“The challenges these kids are surmounting the memories that they are making and the lessons they are learning out here will stay with these students for their entire lives,” she said. “The skills they're building will be the skills that carry them to success in high school, in college and beyond because these are not lessons to be learned, these are experiences that were made.”
She continued that “for three straight days these kids willingly reported stories, wrote and rewrote scripts and built dozens of graphics and they didn’t receive a grade for any of it.”
On March 18, BMB’s final two teams competed in the categories of Human Interest story and Sports Commentary.The Human Interest team had six hours to complete their story, the first three to be used for reporting and the final three to be used for editing.
After two hours of searching for a story they had been rejected from reporting at six different establishments.They entered a 7th, a local Long Beach skate shop where they learned that a team from a different school had just been turned away by the owner.
However, in true Southern California skate shop style, the owner said yes to BMB cause he “liked their vibe.”
The team crafted BMB’s final story in less than an hour and made it into the edit room with just minutes to spare.
Three hours later Broxmeyer and Yepez came out from the edit room together to the cheers of their teammates.
“STN has been the most amazing experience of my broadcasting life so far,” Broxmeyer, a senior student producer, explained. “The pressure, the intensity, if this is what real world TV production is like, I'm ready for it right now.”
Yepez, a three-sport athlete committed to playing softball at Hofstra University next year, compared “the emotional rollercoaster of STN” to “playing for a state championship.”
All of BMB's contest submission will be available to view on the next two episodes of BMB's weekly news magazine, Midweek Update, which can be found on theBMB YouTube.
The episodes will post on March 22 and Wednesday, March 29.While at the convention BMB learned that their two weekly broadcasts, the BMB Morning Announcements and its news magazine, Midweek Update, both earned bronze medals in the competition for STN’s prestigious Broadcast Excellence Award.
The next big event on BMB’s calendar is the annual Broadcast Awards for Senior High moving to Hofstra this year on May 15. Sponsored by Hofstra’s Lawrence Herbert School of Communication, WABC 7 and Newsday, BASH celebrates the accomplishments of the growing Long Island High School Broadcast community.BMB will be co-hosting this year’s event along with the Manhasset Broadcasting Company from Manhasset High School.
Date Added: 3/22/2023