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BMS students produce their own video newscasts

Newton may not be large enough to have its own television news station, but that isn’t stopping students at Berg Middle School. Students in technology teacher Chas Beeler’s classroom have been producing their own news segments for the past two years, covering everything from school events to profiles on the student of the month.

Part of the middle school’s survey offerings, the students can sign up for the class, which runs in one-week sections. Beeler said he’s been offering the class to give students a chance to be creative, while also learning the technical skills behind producing a news broadcast.

The class is made possible by a grant from the Newton Community Education Foundation, which Beeler applied for during the summer of 2016. The $4,500 grant allowed the school to purchase the green screen equipment, as well as a shotgun microphone. The students use a digital SLR camera to record each of the news segments, and then each segment is pieced together by student Wyatt Hall, who handles the editing duties for the class.  

The centerpiece of the classroom is their anchor desk, which was donated by WHO in Des Moines. As Beeler was putting the school’s equipment together, he reached out to the television station to ask them if they had anything they’d be willing to donate to the class. When they offered up the old anchor desk, Beeler said he couldn’t believe it at first.

“They offered it up, and the school sent one of their box trucks to pick up and now it’s here,” Beeler said.

Beeler said the idea behind the class was to give students a chance to do something outside of their normal classroom routines. As the school’s technology teacher, Beeler has also run seminar programs where students have had a chance to explore 3D printing technology and build their own race car.

“It’s just like everything else I try to do, I just want them to experience something they don’t necessarily get in their normal classroom,” Beeler said.

Students in the class work on different teams, each student handles different production duties. Some students write the scripts for each segment while others run the camera and audio equipment. Hall handles the editing duties, piecing each segment together into a finished product.

“I never really liked being on camera,” Hall said. “I just like putting everything together with all the different layers, it’s exciting to see the finished product when you’re done.”

Hall said he’s hoping the project will get more exposure, he isn’t sure that many of the teachers at Berg are even aware of what the students in Beeler’s class are working on. Last year some of the videos that students produced were shared with other classes, but students in the class said they’d like to have more of their peers see their work.

While the class has yet to gain widespread recognition in the halls of the middle school, Beeler said he has had other teachers reach out to him about things they’d like to see the students cover. Last year the class met more regularly and the students produced segments about the student of the month, as well as covering events at the school. Madi Price said even though her favorite part of the class was being in front of the camera, watching her segments in other classes made her nervous.

“It was embarrassing at first, to watch them watch me, but at the end, it was kind of better,” Price said.

Like Hall, Price is hoping the popularity of the class will continue to grow, she’s proud of the work she and her fellow classmates have accomplished. Price said she’d like to see the school feature their videos on the district’s new website.

“I hope more people will be able to see it at the school,” Price said. “Not a lot of people get to see them right now.”

Contact David Dolmage at 641-792-3121 ext. 6532 or ddolmage@newtondailynews.com

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