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Visual performing arts elective lets students explore broadcasting

Sparta — Senior Dylan Rider signed up for the Spartan News class because he was into video editing and putting information together. 

He said he believed skills honed there would help him as he entered higher education. Now he is considering a career in broadcasting. 

“I really like sports and talking about sports, so maybe a sports commentator,” he said. While he hasn’t settled on his future path, he has been especially encouraged by the positive feedback from his classmates when he is behind the camera.

A screenshot of Dylan Rider in action

Students in the class compile information, write news clips, operate the equipment, edit clips and produce a daily show, which is broadcast to the student body and posted on the Spartan News Daily YouTube channel.

The class is a visual performing arts elective, and students can take it twice. Teacher Paul Owens assigns varying roles in the class, which delivers daily newscasts to the student body. 

Senior Justin Mentalewicz said some students gather information from the office for announcements such as the day’s lunch and details about upcoming events such as testing times for the PSAT and SAT. 

Others put into broadcast format the most recent sports news, including the latest scores and individual recognitions. 

Some review what is happening outside the school walls. “We talk about the most interesting and most appropriate news that would give the students a better idea of what’s going on around the world,” Justin explained. 

Senior Dylan Rider says he enjoys the broadcaster seat more than he thought he would

Both Dylan and Justin emphasize that Spartan News Daily newscasters learn not to take sides and always credit their sources, such as CNN, ABC, mLive, WZZM-13, and WOOD-TV8. “We stand neutral when we speak out about politics, as it is a hot topic all the time,” Justin said. 

Every Friday the newscast ends with a joke for the day hosted by the front office staff.

Justin is considering a career in trades rather than broadcasting, but said he is grateful for the skills he’s gaining.

He points especially to learning to use time wisely and work with others. 

“Sometimes if there are multiple takes, it crunches our time, and we need to keep ourselves on time and make sure we finish before the class block ends,” he said.

Owens said he typically lets students do all the work and steps in only if they need help. With in-person learning currently halted, students record their own clips and Owens puts the newscast together.

Watch a Spartan News Daily with students Justin Mentalewicz (at 2:08) and Dylan Rider (at 4:10), and introduced by high school Vice Principal Aaron Romoslawski 
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Janice Holst
Janice Holst
Janice Holst is a reporter covering Kent City and Sparta. She has been both a teacher and a journalist. A former MLive reporter, she wrote features and covered local government and schools for Advance Newspapers for nearly two decades. She also was a recipe columnist and wrote features for Mature Life Style and occasional entertainment pieces for On The Town magazines. She lives in Sparta Township and enjoys spending some of her retirement hours writing the stories of the northern Kent County school districts. Read Janice's full bio or email Janice.


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