Last year, WITN redesigned the 'Best of the Class’ program, and we are so thrilled to continue ‘WITN’s Class of 2009’ with ‘WITN’s Class of 2010’. Only 45 schools participated last year; but this year, we are thrilled to have 66 schools complete the program! A lot occurs to showcase WITN’s Class of 2010 on-air and online the way you see it, and I want to share with you my experience over this three month long project.
‘WITN’s Class’ project is one that requires patience, organization, and many, many hours. This year, it started in February when I sent out the initial invitations via e-mail to the high schools of Eastern Carolina and gave them three weeks to respond. I sent out reminders as the deadline approached, and then followed-up with phone calls and faxes. Many schools responded, but some did not. If I still had not heard from a school post-deadline AND after four follow-up phone messages, I marked them as “not participating”.
Once I had my full list of student names, I contacted the students and directed them to a website that explained the details of the program. The site gives the students the option to create their own videos or come to our Washington studio to shoot them. It details what they need to provide to come to our studio, and what they need to do if making their own videos. It also lists what to send in for their web pages, a download link for a release form, and ALL the deadlines compiled together for easy access.
The students who made their own videos had a mid-April deadline to submit their videos electronically or through mail. The students who chose to visit our studio had to request an appointment for one of two Saturdays in April. 42 total students chose to visit.
Studio days are always a bit hectic, but extensive prep work helps everything run smoothly (personal still graphics, personal school-color moving graphics, scripts, schedules, e-mail reminders, pizza orders….). Studio Day requires a WITN staff of three to keep things moving along. With only five hours available in between weekend production shifts at WITN, we had to schedule a group shot (including a sponsor rep and WITN talent) and 21 individual student shoots. That’s an average of 12 minutes per student in the studio– not very much time. Sometimes we fell a little behind schedule, but overall we stayed on track. Everyone showed up and had fun – SUCCESS!
(BIG thanks to WITN’s John Washington, Kim Tilghman and Mike Newman for lending a helping hand on Studio Days)
The end of April held the final deadline, which included information for the students’ web pages (bio, picture, and facts). All the students did an impressive job of making sure the requested materials were turned in on time.
Once I had everything I needed to work with, it was time to create 14 commercials and a website with 66 personal web pages and graphics. All the studio testimonials had to be put in the computer and clipped (thanks Kim for helping with this), while the self-made testimonials had to be approved. Some needed a bit of work, such as audio filtering, color correction, and stabilization (thanks John for helping with some of this). When they were all completed and in the computer, they were appointed individual numbers that were applied to their web page as video code. The web pages probably took more time than anything else in the project...if you don’t count the 500+ e-mails I’ve responded to in the last three months :)
Now I can proudly say that it’s done, presented to the world, and looks great! The students are amazing, and it’s an honor to highlight them. I’ve gotten to know each and every one of them in some way, and I hope that they go as far in their lives as they possibly can. I’m astounded at how some of them know exactly what they want to do five or ten years from now. How many of us can say that? Congratulations Class of 2010! You earned it!
On a final note, I’d like to dedicate WITN’s Class of 2010 to Ashley Stephenson. He helped recreate the program with WITN’s Class of 2009. Ashley was excited to work on it again with me this year, but sadly passed away in March before he could meet the kids. Even though he wasn’t there on studio day, I know he was watching…and smiling. Here’s to you, Ash.Click Here to view the Students of 'WITN's Class of 2010'