Caleb Rose didn’t make the basketball team but knew he didn’t want to leave the game behind.
He found Hornet Studios, and it has become a passion for the Valley Center sophomore.
Hornet Studios is just one of many student-run media groups at high schools across the Wichita area that goes unpaid and mostly unrecognized. Valley Center operates live-stream videos for almost all sporting events, complete with commentary from students and up to seven cameras in use at once.
Hornet Studios was created out of a bond issue. It started small, but as coordinator and teacher Gavin Couvelha continued to recruit students and grow the brand, they earned more assets.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Wichita Eagle
“The district heavily invested because they saw what the students were doing in comparison with the surrounding league schools and schools our size,” Couvelha said. “It’s a service to the community that the students get to own. They get to find other kids in the student body who have particular skill-sets. It also provides a community for those kids that don’t have the ability to play sports or act on stage.
“When they leave here, they can step right into the workforce.”
Now Hornet Studios has a TV-style studio, camera switcher board, several cables and about 10 students who contribute. The students meet every day and can work up to 25 hours a week, including class time and time at events.
They have traveled as far as Garden City (for the football team’s Week 2 win last season) and produce content daily. No other school does what Hornet Studios does, and that sets Valley Center apart.
“I don’t think we really think about that a lot,” senior Lucas Hunter said. “I think we just focus on putting out the best content that we can. ... I’m up til like 9 (p.m.) writing episodes and cooking chicken wings.”
Valley Center is king of student-produced live video content in the Wichita area, but Derby has it covered on paper.
Panther Publications is Derby’s brand that encompasses the Panther Yearbook and Panthers’ Tale, a high school newspaper and day-to-day online service covering Derby sports and news.
Joanna Chadwick, former Varsity Kansas reporter and current Vype reporter, is the coordinator and journalism teacher at Derby. She said as many as 50 students are involved in Panther Publications, including senior photographer Regina Waugh.
Waugh said she and her staff work more than 30 hours a week to bring the Derby community updates on its sports teams. She said though she has a lot of commitments, including being a full-time student, her work with Panther Publications is important.
“The Derby Informer or The Wichita Eagle can cover anything that happens in the high school: sports, academics or anything it (the school) accomplishes,” Waugh said. “But what’s better than having a student talk to a student?”
Senior videographer Brett Jones creates highlight videos from some of Derby’s biggest sporting events. Although his skills didn’t perfectly fit within Panther Publications, Chadwick said she created the position because she saw what Jones was capable of.
That has helped grow Jones’ brand, earning him more than 45,000 views on YouTube and thousands more on Twitter.
“Going to games or going to community events, people know you and what you do,” Jones said. “There really is an impact, especially in a community that is centered around its high school.”
Campus High’s Channel 060 has the premier student-run social media presence among Wichita-area high schools.
Students go to every football and basketball game and live-Tweet frequent updates, complete with videos or interviews after the game. Program coordinator Zac Kliewer helped create Channel 060 about four years ago. He said he felt something was missing from Campus.
He thought Channel 060 could help expose the life and sports scene around the Campus campus.
“While we’re a big school, it’s a small-town community,” Kliewer said. “It gives kids a chance to shine, and it puts our school in a better light. A lot of poeple think Haysville is kind of a suburban, all-white kids (school) — kind of poor and low-income. We’re doing so much more to break that stereotype, and I think that’s big.”
Channel 060 started as a daily announcements service through its YouTube page. The students quickly picked up on their classmates’ news-consumption patterns and changed that business model.
“Everyone is on Twitter, and it’s a lot easier to share (news),” senior Quinton Hicks said. “If I retweet it, someone from South Dakota can see it. ... I would have coaches contact me and say, ‘Oh, I saw this play because you retweeted it from 060.’ That’s a big help for some of the guys here who are trying to get recruited.”
Student-run media programs have become part of the thread of every high school, Kliewer said. Campus junior Chloe Ward said the group bounces ideas off one another based on what they see from other schools, like Andover or Maize. It all helps highlight their school’s teams and athletes while giving the media students hands-on experience in the process.
“I’m really proud of the work we do,” Ward said. “I could go sit in the student section at every Friday game, but I wouldn’t work through the entire game if it wasn’t something I really enjoy.”