BGHS Junior Benjamin Cahoon operates a camera at a football gameBroadcast partnership brings school events to your living room

With rain falling steadily under the bright Friday night lights, the Battle Ground High School football team is closing out its season in front of a raucous Homecoming crowd. The football team is doing its part to keep the crowd energized en route to a decisive 45-7 victory over South Kitsap High School. All the while, another team of dedicated students is working behind the scenes to broadcast the game on live television (and streaming online) for those unable or unwilling to brave the elements and watch the game in person.

Students from Battle Ground High School teacher Jason Foster’s audio and video production classes spend countless hours each year making such broadcasts a reality. In addition to broadcasting athletic events, the video production crews help bring performances such as school plays and band concerts, as well as daily updates from the school’s own TV news team, directly into people’s living rooms.  

The classes are part of Battle Ground Public Schools’ Career and Technical Education (CTE) program. CTE classes provide hands-on training in skills that help students get jobs or prepare them to continue their educations. In Battle Ground schools, approximately 200 CTE classes are taught each semester in 36 content areas by teachers who have worked in the industry they are teaching.

Jason Foster and his students work under the bleachers to broadcast the football game liveJunior Benjamin Cahoon is currently in his third year of taking Foster’s audio/video production classes and says he plans to continue during his senior year and beyond. “I’d like to work in television and movie production as an editor someday,” Cahoon said. “Working as a director for these live broadcasts has been a lot of fun and a great learning experience. The best part is learning practical skills and gaining experience that could lead directly to a job someday.”

Those who live in the Battle Ground area and subscribe to a cable package through Comcast can catch the programming developed by BGHS audio and video production students on channels 27, 28 (328 for high definition), and 29 thanks to a partnership that spans nearly 40 years. The Vancouver Educational Telecommunications Consortium, known as TV ETC, is what makes this all possible. This non-profit partnership between school districts in Clark County is fiscally managed by the Educational Service District 112.

When cable television became available here back in 1979, the first franchise agreement between the City of Vancouver, Clark County and the cable company set aside access channels to serve our local communities. Per the original agreement, Comcast today collects a fee of $1 per subscriber per month to be used for capital expenses for the production of videos seen on these educational and government channels.

“These channels serve as an invaluable communications tool to inform the community about what’s happening in our local schools,” said Rose Yandell, the TV ETC Coordinator at ESD 112. “The partnership also provides hands-on learning experience for students who participate in the broadcasts, as well as grant funding to help equip the school programs.”

Through TV ETC, schools can request Public, Educational and Government Access Capital Fund Grants, known as PEG grants, to make programs for cable. Such requests are reviewed by the volunteer advisory Telecommunications Committee, which makes recommendations on the PEG grants to the Vancouver City Council and Clark County Commissioners for approval.

A student operates the camera at a football game.Since 2000, Battle Ground Public Schools has been awarded more than $400,000 in grants for the purchase of upgraded cameras, computers, software, and other broadcast equipment. This year, Foster has requested a $19,352 grant for upgraded equipment that will enable the crew to broadcast slow motion replays during the game – just like professional broadcasts.

BGHS offers beginning and advanced video production classes equipped with a live production studio, non-linear edit stations and digital video cameras. Students are taught the fundamentals of video production, story development, live television production, teamwork, and professionalism. Students take what they’ve learned from these classes and apply their skills to broadcast everything from live sports to high school musicals.

For junior Joey Daniels, the main benefit is the variety involved. “I like that I can work outside operating the cameras at sporting events, or I can be inside helping with the graphics programs during the live broadcasts,” Daniels said. “Then in class, I can learn the editing process from making commercials and promotional spots for the BGHS news station. There’s always something new to learn, and it’s never boring.”

“I’m really proud of what the students have produced over the last 14 years,” said Foster. “I’m constantly impressed with the quality of our broadcasts, the way the students work together and put in hours on end for each broadcast without complaining.”

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