DMS broadcasting program takes second in statewide contest

Barely a year since its inception, the Demopolis Middle School broadcasting program has taken a major step forward as signified by its latest accolade.

The DMS program took second in the Alabama Association of School Boards Video Contest, an honor that will see it receive $1,000 in addition to awards to be presented in Montgomery in December.

“Going from not knowing how to do anything to winning second place in a video contest is huge. They have accomplished a lot,” program sponsor Meggin Mayben said.

The contest called for students to produce a video entitled “Excellence in Our School” Entries were to be between 30 and 60 seconds in length and had to be entirely student driven.

“I just helped them organize it. They had to come up with the different shots, how they were going to shoot it They had to come up with what they thought was excellent about our school. I gave them some ideas, but they had to put it together,” Mayben said of the project. “They put it on the movie maker and then we transferred it to the Mac program, iMovie. They did the voice over and we had the eighth grade advanced English class write the script.”

Joseph Barnes served as the student project leader, heading up a team that included Larson Jackson, Grant Patterson, Khyla Wheeler, Trey Malone and Abby Hulsey.

“I think it says a lot about, No. 1, the teacher that’s in charge of it. She did a great job of screening those students. She did a great job of giving it some direction and getting good people involved in it,” DMS Principal Blaine Hathcock said of the program’s achievement. “Our kids have been phenomenal the way they’ve embraced it. They took a lot of ownership. The video, for example, had to be a student-scripted video. It had to be totally student driven. For them to be able to take the lead in those things, obviously there were good people involved in that from the top with the teacher all the way to the kids. I’m extremely proud of that. We started it in the library second semester last year as something we were kind of just dabbling with.”

The students also produced an informational video that has enhanced both the school system and Chamber of Commerce websites. That piece led both Hathcock and Mayben to a presentation engagement in Atlanta set for July.

“When the SREB, the Southern Regional Education Board, did a site visit to our school for this Gear Up grant that we’re getting, (they told us) that was phenomenal,” Hathcock said of the response the video received from SREB reps. He and Mayben are now tasked with a presentation to the SREB conference about engaging stakeholders through social media and broadcasting.

That, in Hathcock’s estimation, is only possible because of the work of Mayben, the students that make up the program and the community entities and individuals that have supported it.

“They’ve been able to do a lot of things to help positively shed a light on our school and promote our school. I’m very proud of where it has went to. I’m also very proud that U.S. Jones has started that. I’m also proud that the high school is going to incorporate that. In just a year and a half, something that was just a vision is going to be in three of our four schools. That makes me proud as an educator and just of the program in general,” Hathcock said. “The city schools foundation has been tremendous because they’ve funded some of the equipment we got through a grant. We sold ice cream, candy bars and things to be able to provide the other equipment we got. The board has zero dollars in the whole program.”

“I want to make sure we credit Dr. Amy Jones and Dusty Prine from UWA. They have been so instrumental. When we hit a kink or hit a problem, they have come and helped us figure stuff out,” Mayben added.

In addition to enhancing the school environment and creating a communication avenue between the school and the community, the program has also served to add motivation for other students who aspire to be part of it in the future.

“It’ll just motivate them. You’re going to have to have a set of computer skills to be able to do it. You’re going to have to want to learn. The broadcasting equipment does not come with instructions. We had to watch YouTube videos and we had to watch instructional videos to learn how to use it. You have to be a learner to know how to do this,” Mayben said.

As this academic year closes and another approaches, the program’s future looks even brighter as the students ready to tackle a wider range of projects.

“We’re going to still do the broadcast. We’re going to try to do commercials for some businesses,” Mayben said. “We’ll do some public service announcements and we’ll do some fun stuff.”