GLEN ROCK, NJ – In keeping with 21st Century learning and college and career readiness, the Board of Education gave the green light last week on design preparations for a TV broadcast television studio and maker space for the Glen Rock Middle and High School Media Center.

The additions are part of a proposed renovation project to the media center and comprise one of four wish list projects being considered for a multimillion-dollar referendum slated for March 2019.

The three other projects the board is considering in the referendum – the total cost for which is yet to be divulged – include sprucing up the playing field at Alexander Hamilton School, auditorium improvements to Central School and air-conditioning units for the district’s four elementary schools.   

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During a board meeting on July 10, Principal John Arlotta briefed trustees on the high school’s “growing interest” in the broadcast media program and the need for a state-of-the-art broadcast television studio in the media center. Currently, the high school's broadcast program does not have a designated space and is located in a cramped corner of the graphic arts/web design classroom, Arlotta said.

“What we’re really trying to do is mimic what a real TV studio looks like in the real world,” said Arlotta.

Arlotta’s vision for the studio would be partitioned off from the middle school portion of the new media center and include a control room area, up-to-date technology, sound and lighting equipment, among other utilities.

Arlotta said he visited other districts that have similar studios in their media center, one of which is the Tenafly district. He noted his desire for the broadcast students to have their own channel with Glen Rock TV for a weekly television show. He said the new studio would benefit the children at the district given the current annual enrollment of 80 students in the Under the Rock program and their previous recognitions by the Garden State Scholastic Press Contests.

“I think it’s a neat space,” he said standing in the current media center at the board meeting. “But I think there’s a lot of wasted space and I think it could be better utilized to meet the needs of tomorrow.”

Following Arlotta's presentation, Middle School Principal Jennifer Wirt also presented about the need for a special maker space area in the imagined new media center that would foster the idea of “tinquiry” (tinkering and inquiry) and include new furniture to facilitate stimulating conversation, collaboration and problem solving. The maker space, Wirt said, would run the gamut of robotics, engineering and augmented reality with computers, building, video production, lego walls, coding and animation software as materials and ideas. She added that a current “maker movement” has become the new trend in middle schools in recent years given the doing away with passé wood shops. These maker spaces, she said, would also help pique the interest of STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) careers for middle school-aged girls and close the gap of students who don't begin education about these areas until the eighth-grade.

Trustee Elizabeth Carr said she thought the broadcast studio would be a "fabulous opportunity for kids" while Board Member Edmund Hayward said he thought the maker space is much-needed for students' continued achievement.   

“We’re catching up at this point,” said Hayward. “As far as I’m concerned, this should be a requisite in every school.”

Glen Rock High School hopes to facilitate broadcast studios like this one for their journalism students. 
Glen Rock Middle School is petitioning the board to transform part of the media center into a maker space for inventive youngsters.