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New Del Valle MS Broadcast Club growing one take at a time

New Del Valle MS Broadcast Club growing one take at a time
Christian Aleman-Rodriguez

Students at Del Valle Middle School are hitting the airwaves and informing students, teachers, and community members as part of the school’s budding broadcast club. Now in its second semester of production, students are molding the club into their own by producing, writing, shooting, and soon editing their own broadcasts.

Led by advisor Sandy Hegedus as part of the after-school LEAD program, the group of students is formalizing the workflow this semester and is on track to produce between five and six broadcasts by the end of the school year. 

“During the very first session, we sat down and did some research on what other clubs were doing. So we watched a couple of videos, and the group said, ‘This is what we want to do,’” Sandy recalled. “So we immediately went into production and started recording stuff and figuring out stories.”

With an idea of the stories students wanted to produce and a name picked, Cardinal Nest News was officially established. To get the club off the ground and motivate students, Sandy brought in the experts from Austin PBS to teach the students about lighting and producing and lend a hand with video editing.

“My husband works over at Austin PBS, and he's a producer over there. So I have a good resource for professional help,” Sandy said. “He hooked us up with Joe Rocha, a producer, video editor, and great all-around person who knows all of this stuff and is fully invested in helping.”

“He came here and talked to us about microphone placement, scene lighting, and camera angles. So he really walked us through that, and from the first to the second episode, it really jumped up in production value because he also created segment intros,” she added.

John Reyes, the LEAD coordinator at DVMS, added that the club focuses on what students want to film and discuss on the show, leaving him and Sandy in guiding roles. 

“The kids come up with this. It's not necessarily us,” he said. “They’ll say they want to do it a certain way. So the LEAD program is, I feel, built for that. We come up with some cool clubs, but the kids are really in control of it because they come up with the idea.” 

Nathan, an eighth grader, has been with the club since it started and is one of the show’s anchors. That means he’s an on-air personality who presents the day’s stories and hosts his segments, like the history segment.

“I do the ‘On This Day’ segment,” said Nathan. “It's our history segment, and we talk about events that happened on certain days.” 

He also helps produce a video game segment for the broadcast. Student reporters write and film movie and book reviews as well as film man-on-the-street segments where they interview students and teachers in the halls.

“I'm trying to run this like it's an actual production, like a professional production. I put deadlines in place and run it to where they start developing a good time management system for themselves … and I’m hoping that translates into other portions of their life,” Sandy said. She added that the club is also improving students’ writing skills and building confidence on and off the camera.

“They really come out of their shells. They go from being quiet and kind of timid, and they don't want to really say anything. But as soon as we kick off and then we're recording, they're on point,” John said.

Along with developing broadcasts, Sandy plans to take the students on tours of studios throughout the Austin area. She’s hoping to visit Austin PBS with the club and is also working behind the scenes to secure visits to other studios. 

“We always have to get them ready for high school,” John said. “Because in high school, there are so many opportunities. I think it’s just amazing that we can offer clubs like this to help them with their speech, and help them make new friends. That's our thing, as far as the LEAD program goes.”

Watch the club's latest broadcast below:

Nathan and Sandy Hegedus from DVMS speak about new broadcast club
Nathan and Sandy Hegedus from DVMS broadcast club
Nathan and Sandy Hegedus from DVMS in front of the video camera
DVMS eighth grade student Nathan holds the Cardinal Nest News microphone
Mr. Reyes and Mrs. Hegedus take a photo with Nathan for the broadcast club