SPOTSWOOD, NJ - Talk a walk down to the classrooms that house the TV Production classes in Spotswood High School and you may just forget that you are actually in a school. The set up is more like a broadcast studio than a traditional classroom. However, that was the intent of Business, Vocation and Technology teacher, Andrew Zaborney, when he took over the reins of the program 13 year ago.
“After Mr. K retired, the district supported my vision of Channel 3, to become a full in-house production studio and network,” Zaborney explained. “I came from a ‘real world, real time’ production environment and truly felt I had what it took to share and instruct our students. The program changed, along with additional technologies, to focus on production from concept on paper to live filming to final edits and broadcast. My goal was to break apart the analytics of how a production is made from the ground up. All of the students, no matter what year they are in school, work with one another in a fun and collaborative environment that encourages critical thinking and technological strategies for broadcast. Through the years the students have helped design and guide the program as well. It was the students who asked for a more challenging section about five years ago and this is how TVIII came about.”
The Spotswood Public School Network houses several different types of programming. Since sports is always a hot topic, the network has several different radio shows dedicated to sports including one that focuses exclusively on hockey. The list of programs features a game show, “Spell This…Define That” and an interview show, “Spotswood Tonight” that is mirrored after popular late night talk shows. Students also work in teams to create commercials that highlight the clubs at Spotswood High School as well as the other activities happening on campus.
Of course, a network wouldn’t be complete without the news and SPSN has that too. A weekly news broadcast is taped every Wednesday courtesy of Zaborney’s TV Production III class. The class includes Megan Cia, Chance Fee, Jessica Gonzalez, Janie Hetman, Vincent Maselli, Joe Mazzella, Benjamin Millburn, Christopher Robel, Donald Shaffer, Noelia Vazquez, Allison Meisner and Gabrielle Pietanza.
The students create the broadcast from start to finish and it all begins with Freeform Fridays where the teens brainstorm topics for upcoming shows. Everyone has his or her job and understands that each depends on one another; joining together to form a successful broadcast.
Cia and Fee have been manning the anchor desk for the newscasts since October while Pietanza usually handles the directing duties. Meisner serves as Zaborney’s assistant while also managing the network’s social media pages. SPSN can be found on YouTube, Google, Twitter, Facebook and US StreamTV.
“TVIII is the top bunch,” Zaborney said of his students.
Most of the TVIII students move through each of the TV Production classes, starting with TVI freshman year. However, if an upperclassman is interested in enrolling in TVIII, Zaborney won’t turn the student away. Typically, the junior or senior catches up quickly with his or her classmates serving as peer tutors. Eighty percent of Zaborney’s TVIII students move on to study communications at the college level while others take the knowledge and experience that they’ve gathered into other areas of study.
Zaborney is always looking to enhance the program, adapting to the ever changing technological advances. In the works for next year is podcasts.
The March 8 news broadcast taping went off without a hitch. Sixty minutes after taping, the newscast was ready to hit the airwaves. The class goal for TVIII is to eventually put together a daily news show.
“We are always producing,” Zaborney explained.
Constant producing is the motto for the TV production students and production begins on day one when they enter the classroom in September. By March, the TVIII news team runs like a well-oiled machine. Zaborney monitors the students, but needs to say very little as they seamlessly complete their tasks that result in an informative newscast complete with school announcements and anchor banter.
“They work hard and this is another awesome attribute to what they do,” Zaborney said of his students.
When the bell rang signaling the end of the class period, the team of 12 students grabbed their backpacks and moved on to their next subject, completing another successful newscast. The process will begin again when they return the next day, just like in an actual newsroom.
SPSN airs on cable channel 26 for Comcast and Xfinity viewers and cable channel 43 for FIOS viewers.