Working together inside the Video News Production classes at Saline High School


It's showtime inside Saline High School. photo by Lonnie Huhman

Saline High School is home to award-winning news and sports shows.

These shows are put together by a team of students who are members of the Video News Production (VNP) classes at SHS. The class is part of the South and West Washtenaw Consortium (SWWC). The morning group produces a school news show called “SHS Today” while the afternoon group produces a sports show called “Hornet Nation.”

Both are award winning shows, according to Nathan Bush, the Video and Photography Teacher at SHS/SWWC.

The Sun Times News (STN) emailed the class to learn more and also recently paid a visit to SHS to see the morning class at work. Bush said VNP is made up of mostly Juniors and Seniors from the SWWC schools of Dexter, Chelsea, Manchester, Milan, Lincoln and Saline. He said some students take the class multiple years for a really extensive experience.

A behind-the-scenes look at putting the news show together. photo by Lonnie Huhman

Sarah Yousif, a Junior in her second year with the program, said for her, “News production is a way for me to explore my interest in a medium that I enjoy without limitations. One of the components of the class is that you get to pick what you report on. This allows students like myself who have more interest in one area, for example localized news, to choose that rather than having to follow a strict curriculum.”

Bush said the program is truly student driven.

“They perform every role in a traditional news based program,” he said. “The students are broken into small teams with a Producer/Director, Audio, Switcher, Teleprompter, Anchors, Floor Director, editors and photographers. The students come up with their own stories (sometimes with my suggestions) and shoot, edit, and cut together everything. They write their own scripts and coordinate with the other team members to produce a cohesive show every week.”

Joshua Gregory, a Senior in his first year with the program, said “It is a great place to be able to learn new technical skills from using Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Premiere Pro to setting up camera equipment to shoot an interview. There are timelines and due dates, but there is generally plenty of time and the teachers help to create an environment conducive to learning and making the best final product we can.”

Working on pre-production. photo by Lonnie Huhman

In explaining the process of putting a show together, Bush said the students have a pre-production meeting at the beginning of a show cycle.

“They assign jobs, and come up with ideas of what to cover,” he said. “They schedule interviews, and shoot dates. Shoot the content, and edit for a total of seven days. We rehearse the show on Mondays, record it on Tuesday, and it goes out to the public on Wednesday morning through YouTube. Wednesday in class, we review the show, debrief and do it all over again! With two teams staggered, we produce a show every week.”

STN asked Ashley O’Donohue, a Senior who is a Producer/Director with three years of experience, what do you like about the news production?

“I love the community and the friends I’ve made, but I also just love learning about every single factor that goes into producing a show,” O’Donohue said.

In thinking about what they are learning in the program, Yousif said, “The obvious things you learn in this class are lessons like how to make a news package and edit videos, but this class reaches a lot deeper when it comes to building a community of people who are willing to work together. Video production is very team based so you have to be able to know how to work in that team and lead it when you need to.”

O’Donohue said, “I’ve learned and as cliché as it sounds that something like this is only going to work if you work with others around you. If you try to do everything on your own, it’s impossible.”

STN asked Bush what are the goals of the program.

“Every year our main goal is to produce quality content the community will be proud of watching,” he said. “When I took over the program 18 years ago, I told my administration that I wouldn’t put my name on anything that wasn’t quality. And it was always going to be quality over quantity. There is a lot of pride in this program and the kids feel it the minute they walk into the classroom and see all the awards we have won over the years on display. We set personal goals at the beginning of the class that vary every year. But quality is always one of those goals.”

As to what the SWWC communities should know about VNP, Yousif said, “It’s really not a conventional class. You’re not stuck with worksheets to do. You get to go out and explore the actual field of video. It feels like you’re actually working in the industry and is very focused on expanding your skills for the future job market.”

To learn more, see these links:

SHS Today playlist

Hornet Nation playlist

VNP Promo Video

On-air talent Emma Thorson and Saturn Allen anchor the news show. photo by Lonnie Huhman
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