“I like broadcasting because it helps me step out of my comfort zone. It also helps me with my speech and my public speaking. I am a little nervous before we get started, but once we get rolling, everything seems to work out for me.
“I really like to do the play-by-play for the sports that I know well enough, and I do like photography, too. I also enjoy the video editing because I find that to be a very interesting part of it all. I’m not sure how many people realize the editing that is involved.” – Kenzie George, Class of 2018
And she and her classmates have performed so well that Wheeling Central Catholic High School’s broadcasting program achieved “Elite Status” with the NFHS Network, a national venture headquartered in Indianapolis with high schools in 13 different states. Only 40 of more than 1,500 high school earned “Elite” status, and that means these local students have demonstrated professional and excellent broadcasting skills while covering sporting events, academic events and programs, special events, religious services, and commencement ceremonies.
In addition, these CCHS students have produced daily news programs and original video productions while utilizing the high school’s on-campus studio. Wheeling Central Catholic has continued expanding its digital media production with the addition of an in-house recording studio as part of the music department’s enhanced curriculum.
Both facilities will be open to the public during today’s Open House, an event that begins at the high school at 1 p.m. School administrators will be available, as will several teachers and the director of athletics, for conversations concerning course offerings, finances, and the admissions process. For more information concerning the Open House, interested individuals can call 304-905-6241.
“The ‘Elite’ status from the NFHS Network is something that we are very excited about because they selected 40 schools out of 1,300 schools nationwide,” explained Deb Warmuth, director of Instructional Technologies at CCHS. “The schools are small, medium, and very large, so this status tells us we are doing something that has impressed the people with that organization.
“It’s based on the number of live athletic events that have been presented by our students. They were looking for 50 events from each school, and we had 77 that we had completed,” she continued. “Our students did all of the set-up, the streaming and the play-by-play broadcasting, and they have been very good with using social media to promote those live events.”
“I have not been very involved with the video production yet, but photography is something I am very interested in, so this program allows me to use the cameras a lot, and I really enjoy that. I’ve liked photography ever since I was little, and I think it’s fun for me to go to different places and take pictures.
“I really enjoy taking the still photographs, but I also want to learn how to use the video cameras because I like to travel, so I want to learn how to record and document those trips. So I want to learn how to use the cameras properly while working on improving my shots.” – Maria Dzmura, Class of 2018
The broadcasting program was implemented only three years ago, and growth has occurred thanks to Warmuth’s dedication, yes, but also because the students, their parents, alumni, and friends have flocked to the productions once completed.
“The students are doing the work, and the school community has supported it in every way possible,” Warmuth said. “The parents have responded, too, by going on the site and watching the events that we have streamed. That also has us very excited because that’s what it takes for our students to improve and to succeed.”
According to the NFHS Network website, the organization, “…celebrates and showcases the unique accomplishments of students, whether they are a student-athlete participating in the 27 different sports covered by the Network or one of the student broadcasters from schools around the country that produce events through the School Broadcast Program.”
“I enjoy broadcasting because it keeps me more involved and I can pay attention to everything that is going on. I know when I am broadcasting the basketball games I do wish I was on the court because I used to play before focusing more on baseball and football.
“But I do know the game of basketball pretty well, and that helps me during the live broadcasts. I try to offer as many details that I can because I think it’s important to share as much as possible with the audience. I know a lot of relatives who live out-of-state, and they might not know much about the sport, but they are just trying to watch a relative play the game.” – Isaac Rine, Class of 2017
“When we first started, it was in collaboration with the NFHS Network, and they really wanted to engage West Virginia schools,” explained Principal Becky Sancomb. “We were one of the first that signed on with them, and now they have many more schools involved from throughout the state. We were very pleased to jump on board in the beginning to be a test school for them.
“They worked with us during that first year to try to figure out how to build it and continue to grow the program, so they were very helpful in that process,” she said. “They were really happy that we joined them in the beginning, and they are very pleased with the way the program has grown here.”
The addition to the broadcasting program, Sancomb said, was at a minimal cost although the students do have the opportunity work with the same technology utilized by professional broadcasting companies. The students, Warmuth reported, do the research involved with streaming live sporting events by interviewing the coaches and players and also by reviewing the rulebooks.
“Right now they are working on boys and girls soccer, both junior varsity and varsity volleyball, and our football team,” Warmuth explained. “And we are planning to go to the postseason games that those teams play, and we have also shot footage on our cross country team that will be placed on the site, too.
“Last year we streamed an entire swimming meet, and we’ll be broadcasting an all-day event when all of the state’s Catholic schools go to one meet a little later this school year,” she said. “And, of course, hockey starts very soon, and that means we’ll be at Wesbanco Arena for those games, and then we’ll continue the program with the boys and girls basketball teams when those seasons get started. In the spring we’ll be broadcasting track, lacrosse, softball, and baseball so we do not leave any team out. They cover them all.”
“I’m really interested in broadcasting because I feel that I’m pretty good at it, and I want to get better. I feel like I could do it when I go to college, so I am trying to learn as much as I can now thanks to this program. I do feel like it comes to be naturally because, when I was younger, all I would watch were sporting events on television.
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“I tend to pick up on things, so watching sports my entire life has allowed me to learn from those broadcasters. I would love to do the baseball games, but I play baseball, so that makes it pretty impossible, so that’s why I’ve been involved with the broadcasts of the other sports. This is something I would love to do professionally.” – Isaac Basinger, Class of 2018
And several students have done just that since the program was started in 2013.
“It’s really helped us engage our community, and it’s given us another outlet for our students because our goal is always to help our students learn and grow their talents, and this program has really helped us accomplish that,” Sancomb said. “We have had several students the last three years go on to college with a goal of broadcasting becoming their career.
“Being a part of this program gave them that insight into what they were passionate about and wanted to do,” she continued. “Many of them have gone to the next level in their education to study broadcasting, film, video production, and sports management. It’s a very well-rounded program in that they are getting the experience of producing these live events, and some of them are behind the scenes; others are in front of the cameras, and others work on the other things involved with the production.”
Now that broadcasting is an available course at Wheeling Central Catholic, Warmuth has realized more interest from the student body, and many of those students dedicate time after school and during weekends in order to participate with the productions.
“We’re very excited about the interest that the program has gained from the student body because while we have 19 students taking the class, we’ll likely have between 15-20 students get involved with the broadcasts,” Warmuth reported. “There are some students who are not in the class this year, but they plan to be next year, so they are getting involved now so they can get that experience.
“Some of the live events are two-camera shoots and some are produced using just one camera,” she said. “And we’ll have students to do both the play-by-play and color for the events. How large the staff is for an event depends on how many students may be available. I’ve had four students and as many as eight for a single event.”
“I’m involved because I like sports, and I like to get involved with sports. When I did baseball, it was a lot of fun, and it made me be more organized during the game as far as who was at bat and what they had done during previous trips to the plate.
“And at the same time I know I need to improve with my broadcasting and with keeping the conversation going. Overall, I have a lot of fun doing it. With baseball I would rather do the play-by-play, but I’ll do whatever is necessary. When the score is close, though, that’s my favorite part because I’m usually the first one to let everyone know. You get very excited at those times, but at the same time you have to keep calm so you don’t go crazy.”– Michael Niggemyer, Class of 2017
The number of live events has increased exponentially since that first year as well, and the creatively has blossomed, too.
“When I came to Wheeling Central in the spring of 2013, the program had been launched already, and they had done a few games by then,” Warmuth said. “So in the three years since I’ve been teaching here, we’ve gone from a half-dozen games up to, hopefully, 80 live events this year. They also do a lot of events like graduation and National Honor Society.
“They have also been there at the times when we have had guests come to school to speak with the students,” she said. “And every day we have the morning announcements, too, and that’s always a lot of fun and interesting, and a few other feature broadcasts during each week. The students are doing more and more on their own and it’s great to watch their progress.”
“I love hockey. It’s really my favorite sport. Once you’re familiar with the game, doing the broadcasting comes pretty easily. My father always told me that if you just watch the puck, you’ll know what’s going on, and he was right.
“I play baseball, and I really like soccer, so hockey isn’t the only sport that I work on. I think it’s very important that you know the rules of the sport you’re broadcasting. The two rules in hockey that a lot of people don’t seem to understand are icing and offsides, but those are just about the blue lines.” – Jaron Rine, Class of 2018
That’s because the audience matters, and yes, there certainly are people watching and listening to each and every streamed broadcast.
“I think the parents are very excited about the program and not just because they get to see their kids during the events that we stream,” Warmuth said. “They are able to log on to the site if they can’t make a game so they can watch their kids or their grandchildren play. And even if they want to watch it a week later, it’s saved on the site.
“I believe everyone is genuinely pleased with what these students are doing, and the students are extremely excited,” she continued. “I know they watch themselves as soon as possible so they can see how they did, and the program has really grown in popularity. People are now asking if they will be at event to broadcast it, and that’s very satisfying for them. That allows them to be very proud of what they are doing, and that’s always very important.”
Warmuth also has invited several local, professional broadcasters to speak during class, and the students have since expanded their production beyond live sporting events. For example, a few students produced a public service announcement that concerned the proper way to park along 13th Street near the high school.
“We have added some things each year because with each school year there are new students in the program and they bring new ideas,” Sancomb explained. “And one of the great things with this program is that Deb is very flexible and willing to try almost anything. She allows her students to show their creativity while keeping a handle on all of the organization of it all.
“And Deb has been great with helping them to discover their talents and their interests, and that really helps with their development and with them figuring out which direction they want to go,” the principal said. “It’s truly collaboration between her and the students, and that’s why it’s worked out so well.”
(Photos provided by Wheeling Central Catholic High School)