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Live From Westhampton Beach, It’s "Hurricane Watch!"

Originally Posted: November 19, 2008

Kelly Carroll

Westhampton Beach High School students Taylor Baker, left, and Rachel Paoletta co-anchor the school's Hurricane Watch news show. Photos by Kelly Carroll

Westhampton Beach - Whether its broadcasting from the Democratic National Convention in Denver or creating news tapes on their school's varsity sports teams, the Westhampton Beach High School's broadcast journalism class is striving to new heights in the media world.

"This has opened a new door for us," offered broadcast student Rachel Paoletta, a junior who also co-anchors the school's news show Hurricane Watch. "People think of us as creators and artists."

In the broadcast journalism newsroom, students work with Adobe Premiere editing

Last school year, according to high school Principal Christopher Herr, Westhampton Beach had only one section of broadcast journalism that produced eight shows over the entire year. This year, in stark contrast, the department has grown to two sections of broadcast journalism, which together have already produced 12 shows on local news, sports and the arts as it relates to Westhampton Beach and its students.

This rapid growth in only one year is a positive sign for Herr, who said he hopes to see the creation of an entire mass-media program in the school, which would include not only broadcast journalism, but also print media and web design. "We hope it will become a significant program," he added.

Currently, students in the broadcast journalism classes produce recordings of student government speeches, advertisements for student-sponsored events and recruiting films for high school athletes looking to move on to the college level. Students have produced their own segments, including investigative reporting and skateboarding packages.

In addition, students are working on a virtual tour of and highlight reel for the high school to help guide incoming freshmen or families outside of the district that may be thinking of moving to Westhampton Beach.

In the control room, show producers can monitor the broadcast.

During a presentation to the district's Board of Education Monday, illustrating the advancements the broadcast classes have been making, Paoletta, and co-anchor Taylor Baker, showed board members a news package they created earlier this school year on both the Democratic and Republican conventions. Baker, whose father Harry works for NBC Universal, Inc., was able to gather a behind-the-scenes look at the Democratic National Convention, and brought his reporting back to Westhampton Beach. Baker told the board the broadcast class brings out a certain "energy and enthusiasm" in him.

Baker and Paoletta showed the broadcast studio to the Westhampton
Beach Board of Education Monday night.

Inside the broadcast journalism classroom, students are met with rows of computers outfitted with the editing software Adobe Premiere, a studio, complete with an anchor desk, three cameras and Teleprompters, and a control room where producers monitor each show's taping. To add curb appeal to the studio, students in the art department are currently working on a logo for the show to hang behind the anchor desk, adding another dimension to the already professional setting.

Principal Herr emphasized that the vision for the broadcast classes can only grow from here. In the creation of a mass-media curriculum, Herr said he would also like to see students working across curriculum lines. In the future, Herr said he has plans for the students to produce live, daily shows. In his estimate, the principal said this kind of education will not only set students from Westhampton Beach apart from the rest of the pack when it comes time to applying for college, it will also teach them many real-world skills.

"Every day I am challenged," Baker commented. "This teaches you things. You don't get it done with one person. In each package you find a piece of everyone."

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