Students 'blaze' news trail - Meryn Fluker Savage Pacer

Sunday, November 20, 2011 3:00 pm

Students 'blaze' news trail

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A week in the life

The students behind “Blaze Weekly” adhere to a schedule in order to create each episode. Here’s a snapshot of what a week of class looks like for the “Blaze Weekly” crew:

  • Monday: Finalize story rundown
  • Tuesday: Stories must be completed
  • Wednesday: Rehearsal
  • Thursday: Filming
  • Friday: Pitch story ideas

 

On Monday morning, a group of students wandered the hallways at Burnsville High School with a camera and tripod in tow. They weren’t late for class nor were they skipping; they were simply looking for cool places to plank.

Meanwhile, their peers sat on stools in room E120, pitching: Black Friday? Favorite Thanksgiving memories and traditions?

This is the life of a student in Tyler Krebs’ video production class. The 28 students in the section spend each week crafting the almost-six-minute newscast, from the seeds of story ideas to a fully bloomed broadcast, beamed across the airwaves each Thursday morning.

“I wanted to have something that the student body could see and say, ‘How do I get involved with that?’” said Krebs.

This is the first year that the school has offered this class, with “Blaze Weekly” making its broadcast debut on Nov. 3, but Krebs is no rookie. His father did video production and Krebs taught for 14 years at Eastview High School in Apple Valley, where his video production class students produced a similar news digest called “The Flash.”

“I was ready for a new challenge and came here to start this program,” Krebs says of his decision to cross the border and teach at Burnsville High School, where he is also the head football coach.

There have already been some growing pains for the semester-long class. Unlike the much newer Eastview, Burnsville’s building isn’t really wired for every classroom to simultaneously broadcast the “Blaze Weekly” feed.

“The biggest issue is that the technology infrastructure isn’t in place,” Krebs said. “We’re really trying to do something in a new way which the school isn’t built for.”

Taking the leap alongside Krebs are his 28 students, some of whom are seeking the freedom and adventure of blazing a new trail.

“Being able to do my own thing and choose what I’m going to do because it’s rare in high school,” said senior Cain Bonèy of Burnsville when asked about his favorite part of the video production class.

Bonèy opted to be in the class because it aligned with many of his passions.

“I’m really interested in film,” he said. “In 10th grade I decided I wanted to be a writer. I’m really committed to it … This is the news and journalism side, which is something different than I’m used to.”

Emma Fischer, a fellow senior from Burnsville, is one of Bonèy’s classmates. She’s hoping to have a career in journalism, possibly as a photographer, and thought the class would be an interesting place to start.

“It’s cool to be able to learn to use a camera, edit video and do interview,” she said. “We’re becoming like a big family.”

Not every student in Krebs’ class has their eyes set on being the next Katie Couric, but the teacher does hope to nourish the students who do dream of futures in video production.

“This class is a great foundation piece for everyone who wants to go into the industry,” Krebs said.

Prior to the debut of “Blaze Weekly,” which is filmed in the BCTV studio at the high school and airs throughout the week on BCTV channel 18 – the students spent time learning how to use editing software. Now that the show has launched, the students get to take on a variety of roles with each week’s edition: some students film the humorous close that ends the show while others work on remote feature stories about things like the school’s coloring club, sports teams or the new Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports initiative called FIRE.

When it comes to the broadcast, a pair of students shares a desk as the show’s anchors while their peers run cameras, teleprompters and direct. Krebs is on hand to supervise and offer advice, but “Blaze Weekly” is purely student run.

“I’ve been impressed,” he said. “It’s really student-driven and they take ownership of it.”

Because the class is currently only one semester in length – Krebs is hoping to work out a way so students’ schedules will accommodate the course for the full year – the learning curve has been pretty steep.

“We’re learning a lot and it’s going really fast,” Bonèy said. “It forces you to be more assertive because you have to go out and find the story.”

“We’ve basically turned it into an advanced class,” said Krebs.

The students each get a chance to experiment in each position, from floor director to anchor, so everyone’s experience is maximized.

“We will never force someone to do something they’re not interested in doing,” Krebs said.

With another broadcast behind them, the students are now focused on the future, be it next week’s show or the possibility of taking Krebs’ class next semester if it’s offered – something Bonèy and Fischer are both interested in.

“It’s cool knowing that you’re part of something new at Burnsville,” said Fischer.

Tune in

Watch past episodes of “Blaze Weekly” here