With their award-winning video and exclusive interview with the country’s Commander in Chief, six students from Hyde Park Career Academy’s Broadcast Technology Program have been basking in the national spotlight for several weeks.
The accolades began in December, when a broadcast team of four seniors learned that their original film on self-esteem had placed second in the multimedia category of the Walgreens Expressions Challenge – a competition meant to inspire students to explore their views on social issues that affect teen culture.
“The students chose self-esteem as their topic because it’s an issue most of them deal with during their high school years,” said Keva McGee, broadcast technology instructor at Hyde Park. “They wanted to help their peers identify those feelings and let them know that they’re not alone.”
Creating the video required a good deal of time and research, with each student playing a different role in the production. “
“It was such a great opportunity,” said Keri harwell, who acted as the film’s editor. “Projects like this give us a chance to try so many roles both on and off camera.”
The four seniors were pleased with their final product, but since they knew they would be competing with over 300 other broadcast teams from throughout the Chicago area, they were truly shocked to learn they’d won.
“I was so surprised,” said Malik Gardener, the film’s cameraman. “I thought they were lying. Especially because we found out over a weekend, so we were just all blowing up each other’s phones with the news.”
Ranice Green, who acted as the writer for the film, couldn’t stop thinking about her broadcast teacher. “I kept saying, Ms. McGee must be flipping off the walls right now,” she said. “She must be so happy.”
The students received $1,250 in prize money, and were presented with their award at a ceremony hosted by FOX Chicago News personality Robin Robinson. Ms. McGee received a $500 prize for her role as their instructor – an award she was forced by Hyde Park’s administration to keep.
“I wanted to buy a couple of new cameras for the program, but they wouldn’t let me,” she said. “As nice as the prizes were, though, the best part was having the students recognized for their talent and hard work. I don’t think they realized until then that they were this good.”
The winning team has been part of the broadcast technology program at Hyde Park for three years, progressing from learning about equipment and terminology to writing scripts, constructing camera shots, creating graphics and eventually, becoming certified on editing software used in the professional film industry. All hope to pursue broadcast technology in their future studies and careers.
This is a dream shared by seniors James Adams and Jamari Triggs, who had the opportunity to interview and film President Obama when he visited Hyde Park Academy last month.
“I couldn’t believe he was really coming,” said James. “I thought it was a joke. And then when I found out I would get to interview him on camera, I was overwhelmed. My mind was blown.”
James prepped for the interview for three days, but he couldn’t get over his nerves. “I was nervous and way too excited,” he said. “I was shaking and my palms were sweating.”
But once the interview started, the President put James at ease. “He acted just like an everyday person,” James said. “He took his jacket off and just talked to me, and that helped me stay calm.”
James asked the President about his background, his education, and his family. “He grew up in an urban area like us, and had a single parent home like a lot of us do,” he said. “I felt like we could really relate to him.”
James’ favorite comment from the President was on the importance of staying healthy. “The President said he gets up early three days a week to exercise,” he said. “And I figure if he has time for that, we should all have time.”
Senior Jamari Triggs, who was given the honor of filming the President during his televised presentation at Hyde Park, was less anxious about the experience. “I wasn’t that nervous,” Jamari said. “I just kept thinking it was a good opportunity for me.”
Jamari was selected by his peers for this role based on his skills with the camera. “He’s a really good camera man,” said Jamari’s broadcast technology classmate Ranice Green. “He understands how to use all the different camera angles, so he was the perfect one to document the President.”