When school shifted to online only in March due to the pandemic, the Bellmore-Merrick Broadcasting program made a collective decision to keep the cameras rolling.
They posted 163 videos during the 90-day stay at home period.
“I became the director and producer of our daily update show,” explained senior Andrew Fried, who is now the news director. “I was up late working on the videos for each day and it was a great learning experience. Along with the daily show, I also continued to host the morning announcements show.”
BMB students then volunteered to produce the livestreams of the 18 graduation ceremonies from all three of the district’s high schools during the course of three days in late June.
Even though the 2019-20 school year ended on June 13, the broadcasting program continued throughout the summer, with editorial board Zoom meetings and a midsummer beach meet up. In late August, the students of BMB created a back to school special that highlighted the changes that students and parents would expect in the district’s six buildings.
With the school year ramping up, BMB has returned to its studio housed at Mepham High School it is resuming its busy production schedule.
“We really just want to continue what we’ve been doing and make it better,” added Fried. “We want to show the district that we can’t be put down by challenges. We take what is given to us and we work with it to get the job done.”
The school year’s first morning announcements show was produced Sept. 11 and the team came up with a clever way to socially distance.
“We appropriated a room around the corner to create a second studio,” explained Broadcasting teacher Stu Stein. “We connected the two studios using network technology so it can appear that our hosts are together but they're actually in separate rooms allowing them both to be unmasked but to appear to be on camera together.”
In addition to the weekly update show, the team had to fill a scheduling void left by the cancellation of fall sports.
“We have a monthly, three-show shooting schedule,” explained senior Sean Petraitis. “One week, we will film our show, Sports Talk, where we will discuss professional sport leagues. “Another week we will film, Talking Cookies, an interview-based show about what is going on at Mepham. Lastly, we will shoot What's Poppin Pirates, a comedy show that promotes school events. We will have our hands full of content for Mepham students and students all around the district to enjoy.”
Twenty-four freshmen joined the program this fall. Stein, along with colleagues Lisa Kalish and Matthew Russell, are seeking ways to create opportunities for upperclassmen to share what they’ve learned while maintaining social distancing protocols.
“Like everyone, BMB is adjusting to this new reality and we're just taking things one day at a time,” Stein added. “For our students, we treat our shoots as hands-on real-world experience and we really want our underclassmen to have an opportunity to learn on location from our seniors before they move on at the end of the school year.”