As soon as Anna Dood, student executive producer of Rockford High School’s (RHS) school news, approached the podium in her TV production class, you could tell she had a big announcement. All eyes were on her, as she let the class know results were in. The Michigan Association of Broadcasters (MAB) had released the outcome of their yearly prestigious competition, and you couldn’t help but know good news was coming.
One category at a time, Dood read results to the class, and the atmosphere quickly switched from silent anticipation to ear-clanging cheers. Finally, after all individual results were read, the class was waiting for the biggest announcement of them all: the state title.
With great willpower, Dood held strong to the end, finally uttering those desired words, “We won MAB station of the year!” Loud applause, laughter and pounding on tables forested the advanced team that worked so hard to reach their goal.
From the outset, this special team of students and their instructors had one major goal in mind for the year: to reclaim the title. The last victory for these video-loving Rams was in 2008. Since that year, Davison had claimed the crown three years in a row.
“We watched their videos like game footage,” commented instructor Kris DeYoung. “We knew we had great competition, but this group wanted it bad, so bad they were even willing to meet in the summer to begin preparing. At one point I had students offering to find a babysitter for my daughter so they could come in on Sunday to work. Now that is dedication, and also pretty funny.”
Alex Schaap, senior leader of the team, could feel the desire for the title from the get-go. “Mr. DeYoung and Mr. Springer got our whole class so fired up about this competition. Their passion for it was contagious. We really liked our ideas, and it was really exciting to see them succeed.”
For Dood, it wasn’t just about the accolades, but her passion for the craft. “I worked hard because this is what I love to do and I want to be proud of my work, regardless of a prize or trophy.”
With DeYoung’s first full year at the helm of the program, he was partially taunted by the studio’s video technician, Jason Springer, veteran of the team. “Right next to the four state title plaques hanging on the wall, Jason hung an extra screw. It taunted me almost daily. I wanted it to be filled, and this was the group of students I knew could do it.”
The Rockford TV studio class who runs under the name “Beyond the Rock” had 27 students place in the top three within the various categories in the competition, taking home many first-place honors. The students had 12 videos place in the eight possible categories. Many students took home multiple awards. The team took home first-place finishes in six out of the eight categories.
Jordan Shiparski even had the odd but fun honor of creating a two-way tie with his own video. “I was happy to see all the hours after school pay off,” he commented. “I never expected to tie myself for first place!”
One of the most involved members of the program, Kayla Tykosky, really took a key role in this victory. “The TV studio class is like my second family, and I know I can go to any of them for anything. I put a lot of time into many projects from mornings to nights, on lunches and on weekends. It was like a part-time job.”
It was the summation of all these individuals that brought the victory. In the end, it was truly a team effort.
“I was so proud of all their hard work. From summer work all the way to shipping out our entries, this was one amazing group,” Springer added.
Key team member Bailey Benoit put in as many hours in her videos as many athletes put into their sports. “We videotaped footage after school, came in on lunches, spent late nights in the studio, anything we could do to create a quality video. It taught me dedication and setting a high standard for myself. It felt so good to have it pay off.”
Students were able to travel to Lansing to accept their awards.
For some students, this day in the limelight of video may not be their last. Their interest has been sparked for future endeavors.
Senior Josh Waldvogel has set his eyes now on a possible career in film. “This is something I want to do for a living, so being acknowledged for our work is a great honor.”
Although DeYoung is excited about the victory, he is sad to lose his predominantly senior team. “The journey has been incredible. To me, these are not only my students, but they are like family now. I am so proud of not only their accomplishments, but for who they are as people. I am truly going to miss this group next year.”
As the summer approaches, the next generation begins to be mentored by the departing seniors. This team is not about to settle for just this year’s victory. The competition has their eyes on Rockford more than ever, but the team will be prepared.
DeYoung concluded, “The screw on the wall next to the four plaques is now covered. However, I have a feeling that Mr. Springer may be adding another one next to our new plaque just to taunt me. Back-to-back titles would be nice. Time to fire up the next group.”