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Updated 5 hours ago
Most days, advanced television production students at Franklin Regional High School are working on class projects or the daily “Panther News Brief.”
Recently, they were hard at work on the second episode of “FR in Focus,” a series that doesn't just go out to fellow students but is also broadcast throughout much of the district on local cable-access Channel 19.
“I felt like it was an honor,” said sophomore Colten Oakes. “We're high school students, and we were selected to produce something for all of Murrysville.”
“FR in Focus” is hosted by district communication and development director Cara Zanella and Superintendent Gennaro Piraino, and is a way to communicate more directly with district residents.
“We also wanted to use television media to delve deeper into programs of interest in the community, and to use our staff expertise and the talent of our students to further that goal,” Piraino said.
Zanella has experience doing similar shows in other school districts, “and I thought FR was a really good fit for this type of project,” she said.
For the kids in Becky Magness' advanced television production class, it's a chance to put their skills to a new use.
“We all have experience in all the different production roles, so we run through a rotation,” Oakes said.
Senior Gabrielle Lee said it keeps every day interesting.
“Today, I was behind the camera; tomorrow, I'll be the anchor,” she said. “It's fun because it's always different.”
The initial, 25-minute episode focused on some of the district's new initiatives including its Discovery Education professional development system for teachers as well as the recent Google Chromebook pilot and its expansion this school year.
It was filmed over an hour and a half in the fall, and students performed the post-production work including graphics and editing.
Magness said it was a great opportunity for students to work in a unique setting.
“Being able to work with the superintendent and staff is very different, because they're directing the administrators and telling them what to do,” she said. “I really wanted (the students) to run the show.”
Senior Mikayla Durkoske said she enjoys the teamwork aspect of working on “FR in Focus.”
“It's a really good feeling because you know it's not just one person,” she said. “Every single one of us plays a really important role to produce something we can all be proud of.”
For senior Cameron Stull, who plans to continue his education in media production, being part of the class and the “FR in Focus” project has him confident about his future, particularly given what former classmates are doing.
“They're going to Point Park, going to film school in California, going to Kent State — it's comforting to see that, if this is something you want to do as well,” he said.
The latest episode of “FR in Focus” is posted to the district's website. Future topics include the ongoing district-wide feasibility study and the nonprofit Panther Foundation.
Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2862 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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