PHS media arts class growing

Christina Calloway

Portales High School officials think basketball games could just be the beginning for its media arts class.

The class did its fifth broadcast of the semester of Ram and Lady Ram basketball games Friday night, when the Portales girls opened District 4-3A play with a win over Ruidoso. The games are broadcast on a video board located on the south wall of the gym, and streamed online at www.portalesschools.com.

Melvin Nusser, principal at PHS, said the class growth has been a snowball effect. He talked with Portales Municipal Schools Superintendent Randy Fowler and Eastern New Mexico University Broadcasting Director Duane Ryan, along with a few other technicians, it took off from there.

“This was an area that we didn’t have any kids going into,” Nusser said, “and I thought we were missing an opportunity with having a PBS station right here in our own town.”

Nusser asked Ryan if such a class would benefit them going into ENMU’s communications program, and he was told PHS would be able to acquire equipment that is more advanced than they’d find at the four-year college.

“That’s all Mr. Fowler needed to hear,” Nusser said. “When he sees the vision, he does it right and sees it through.”

Nusser said the students only had about two days of training with the $4,000 cameras before they started filming and streaming the games. About 10 to 12 students from the class participate in each production on a voluntary basis.

“Working the camera is fun; it makes me feel important,” said Juan Rivera, a sophomore in the class. “At first, I didn’t really think about (media arts) as a career. But now that I am in the class, I’ve been looking at schools that have this program and jobs that require these skills. It could be a career field that I’d go into.”

The media arts class currently has 22 students and is offered as an elective. It also counts as a communication credit as a part of the school’s dual credit program with ENMU.

As a whole, Nusser said, the dual credit program has been quite successful. Last year Portales high had 132 students in the program that earned a total of 1,900 credit hours, an average of about 14 hours per student involved.

Nusser is looking into expanding the media arts program by offering more classes to encompass not only the technical side of media arts, but also the talent and advertising portions of it. He has talked with local radio stations and a couple of broadcasters are willing to come in and do some clinics and trainings with the students on how to be a broadcaster.

The current class also has some plans and ideas for future projects. Later this month they will broadcast an ENMU basketball game. Nusser said the broadcast will help the students work in a different environment and help prepare them to stream Portales high’s graduation, also held at Greyhound Arena.

“We want to be able to set up there and know how it works and know how the equipment works and then come graduation, family who can’t attend can watch it live,” Nusser said.

They also plan to film the traditional Maypole dance that takes place the Thursday before graduation so that they can put a package together of the two events and burn them on to DVDs as souvenirs.

One more idea that Nusser is really excited about is having students associated with Cannon Air Force Base being able to talk to parents overseas or on duty and the media arts class plans to make that possible.

“Our next step is to set up Skype with the system and we’re going to bring those kids in here that have the opportunity to sit in front of that computer with a camera on them and talk live with their parents,” Nusser said. “Can you imagine being a third-grader who hasn’t seen their dad or mom for six months, and then getting to sit down and have a conversation with them? This is play stuff with the games. Something like that is life-changing.”

During broadcasts, the streams are available via a “Live Webcast” button on the Portales Schools website.