Beyond The Rock takes home three-peat High School Television Station of the Year

Three is a good number. So many things come in threes. You’ve got the three little pigs, the three stooges, various movies and their trilogies, and so many more. I like the number three so much, I even had triplet boys. Yes, I know, it’s extreme, but I’ve always believed, go big or go home. This year our Beyond The Rock program at Rockford High School set our sights on making this a year of threes, most importantly with a three-peat state championship. And with great determination, that is just what the team achieved.

The BTR students were recognized for their third straight title as the “High School Television Station of The Year” by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters (MAB). The team has now become only the second team in the history of the MAB student awards to take home the title three years in a row. This brings the program to nine overall championships, capturing four in the last five years.

Students from every level of the program, from beginners to intermediates, and of course the advanced team, submitted over one hundred videos in twelve different categories. Videos were created throughout the year from Current Events stories to News Features and Mini-Documentaries. The team was able to take home a first place recognition in five of the twelve categories, including: Hard News, Daily Newscast, News Feature, PSA, and Sports PSA. Thirty-four students from Rockford had one of their videos place as one of the top three in the State in their respective categories. Students covered a wide range of topics from serious concepts such as teen mental health to lighter community events like their Art Prize talk show “Beyond The Prize”, hosted from Rosa Parks Circle.

Art Prize talk show “Beyond The Prize”, hosted from Rosa Parks Circle

All of the students were presented with their individual and team awards in Lansing at the Great Lakes Broadcasting Conference. Students dressed to impress as they experienced a day full of meeting industry professionals, award recognition, and one of their favorite components, delicious food. The chocolate cake was to die for, I can vouch.

After many months of work before school, during lunches, and many long hours after school, students reaped the benefits of an award they laboriously sowed. When students ask if they can meet you at school at five in the morning to begin working, you know you have commitment (and a good problem.) To so many students, this program has brought them both a skill set, and a sense of belonging.

Executive Producer Haley Nash began the program as a middle school summer camp student, continued in the middle school Digital Communications program, and has served in the high school program for three years. She is one who has seen a forever impact. “BTR has given me some of the greatest friendships and greatest experiences of my life so far. I hope the program can have that same impact on many of the new students as it has had on me.”

Intern crewmember Maddie Smith has a similar appreciation. “This program has given me so many opportunities to develop new skills and connections in the community, all while forming lifelong friendships.”

Junior Jackson Carey gives much credit to the power of the team. “As a team we accomplished something great. It was not just one person, but it was about all of us coming together.”

Student Associate Producer Katie Montroy also felt the strength that comes from the team. “It felt like all our hard work this year really paid off. Life is not all about winning, but man it felt great when they called our name.”

Sports web producer Brendan Burke is one who has taken advantage of everything this program has to offer, and has even decided to pursue broadcasting as a career. “We are a family at BTR. I have learned so much, from speaking skills, patience, and being the best I can be. I have been blessed to be a part of this program for three years, and it’s sad I’m almost done. Because of BTR, I have found what I want to do with my life.”

Not only has Brendan found his calling, but BTR Sports Director Corinne Moore discovered the same. “BTR has helped me find my voice and my passion, and has led me toward pursing a degree in broadcasting when I begin college this fall. I’m looking forward to following my dreams, which all started at Rockford High School in Mr. DeYoung’s class.”
As the bus slowly pulled out from the Lansing Center with the capitol building hovering tall in the background, the students released boisterous cheers and celebratory laughter, all while proud smiles draped across their faces. They passed around their new shiny trophy, giving it a big ol’ smooch like it was the Stanley Cup, only lighter.

As one MAB ceremony wraps up, the team has already begun preparing for the next year. Classroom video technician and assisting instructor Jason Springer has high hopes for the new leadership for the following school year. “I look forward to next year’s group; we have a lot of very talented juniors and sophomores coming up. The future looks bright for BTR.”

I think back to my three-for-one surprise with my own children. Shortly after my wife gave life to our triplets, we strongly vowed that we would have no more children. Triplets will do that to a person. We were completely satisfied (and perpetually exhausted) from my daughter and her three fanatic little brothers. With a history of fertility struggles, we believed the doctors had told us for years we would never have children of our own. I’ve learned doctors sometimes lie, and we call that lie my two year old son, Joey. So I figure, just like my family situation, it only makes sense to follow up a set of three “Station of the Year” titles … with just one more.

Instructor Kris DeYoung, Video Technician Jason Springer, and former student executive producer, Lauren Butzer, make good on a bet to get tattoos of BTR if the team secured a three-peat.