Jodi Greenleaf is beloved by students, both past and present, at King Philip Regional High.
“This is my favorite class,” one student told a classmate as the two walked through the door and into Sports Broadcasting in Room 312.
The classroom is far different from others at King Philip. It’s a mirror image of a professional television studio as Mac computers are spaced out to create 15 editing stations and Adobe Premier software is used at a rapid rate, all while other students work on their hand-held video cameras. Oh yeah, and the studio’s green screen is just through a set of doors.
“It’s nice because some have no interest in the field, they just like sports,” Greenleaf said of the 70 or so students who have enrolled in Sports Broadcasting this year. “So, they have a class they can come talk about sports and watch sports and everything.”
“And I’ve had some kids that are doing pretty well for themselves out there (in the field),” Greenleaf added, noting former student Zack Cox, who is at NESN, as well as Andrew McMannis, who worked for MLB Network. “It’s a huge industry.”
Room 312 is home to Introduction to TV Production and Advanced TV Production, which creates a brief news program, “Wake Up Warriors,” while the Sports Broadcasting class ultimately transitions to the King Philip Sports Network’s weekly broadcast.
For KPSN, sports broadcasting students spend time in and out of class recording Warrior athletic contests, interviewing coaches and players, while researching and scripting the framework of their story before finalizing the product on their own. KPSN, which started five years ago, is produced by students for students, teachers and staff to watch in homeroom on Thursdays.
A college-level program, Greenleaf said that, as with all her courses, sports broadcasting students are responsible for doing it all on their own.
“Really, I call it a learn-by-doing program,” she said. “You have to just jump in and do it and make mistakes and learn from your mistakes. I try to teach them. I’m not going to stand up and lecture and tell them ‘how to.’ I tell you, ‘This is a great idea,’ and I give some basic feedback. And I say, ‘Let’s make it. Let’s do it.’”
It has been a method of success since Greenleaf first applied for a grant for the KPTV program in 1999. She has helped it become one of the most recognized programs in New England and beyond. Both KPTV and KPSN have recently made it to the National Television Academy of Arts and Sciences. The KPSN program did so most recently as it was named a finalist for a project called “Road to Gillette,” about the Warrior football team winning the MIAA Super Bowl.
Beyond the classroom
And while KPSN’s target audience is obviously those interested in King Philip athletics, students can also get creative in the Boston sports market. They intertwine stories on the New England Patriots, which they could film at Gillette Stadium. Previous classes had the opportunity to attend championship parades in Boston and produce stories on the World Series champion Red Sox and Super Bowl champion Patriots.
“It’s really fun because you get to see the background, it’s not the generic green screen,” junior Mia Valencia said of her experience at both parades in Boston. “You get to see the people walking behind you, it’s like real life. And as we’re doing ours, you have NBC and Channel 7 News doing there’s next to us. So, we feel really professional with it. It’s really fun. And the experience going in together, you get to know each other better so it’s a really good experience.”
That’s part of the learn-by-doing approach Greenleaf believes in.
“Stuff like that is incredibly powerful for them,” Greenleaf said of the importance of getting out of the classroom.
She related it to the KPTV students traveling to Boston for the trial of Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, along with a sports broadcasting student doing a live shot at MCI Cedar Junction when former Patriot and convicted murdered Aaron Hernandez was moved from Walpole.
A student’s perspective
Senior Eric DeLorenzo is in his first year as the sports anchor for KPSN after deciding to step in with the broadcast graduating a core group of seniors last year.
“It’s definitely been eye-opening,” DeLorenzo said, adding his favorite part is that his younger siblings believe he’s on network TV when he shows off the KPSN broadcast. “It has been a good experience and this is a great program. I talk to a lot of my friends from other towns and they all say, ‘We do nothing like this.’”
While DeLorenzo is a newcomer to the program, Valencia has taken classes in Room 312 for each of her first three years of high school. She anchors “Wake Up Warriors” while also conducting field reports at King Philip football games, where she interviews coach Brian Lee for KPSN broadcasts.
“I think they have a pretty good response to it,” Valencia said of her classmates. “I think they enjoy seeing themselves, like us. It’s kind of cool to get the recognition, so I think they enjoy it.”
Both Valencia and DeLorenzo said the TV classes at King Philip have made them think about studying the industry in college.
A growing attraction
With an extensive amount of exciting opportunities, it’s no wonder that KPTV classes, the Sports Broadcasting elective specifically, has continued to trend upward.
Greenleaf said the 70-plus students in two sports broadcasting classes is the most she has ever had.
“Generally, my classes are a little bit bigger than what most people would take,” Greenleaf said. “I’ve had situations where I let a kid in that probably could’ve easily been turned away, and then they become gold for me.”
And while not all students will be interested in the industry long term, Greenleaf said Sports Broadcasting and other KPTV courses provide a benefit that not many others in the school can compete with.
“I think that no matter what, the experience that they get in here can be applied to so many places and I find that the No. 1 thing we provide is confidence,” Greenleaf said. “They are shy in the beginning and then after a while, when they sit in homeroom and watch their work air on the broadcast, and that’s part of learning too, they get a feel for how the audience is responding.
“And that’s a tough audience. It’s unforgiving, but again, that’s what they need. They need to learn how to handle all that stuff. So, I kind of feel like we do it all.”
Her students surely agree.