Blair's BNC organization teaches students about professionalism


Feb. 8, 2005, midnight | By Grace Harter | 15 years, 6 months ago

A stepping stone to greatness


Two professionally equipped studios. A row of editing stations outfitted with top of the line programs and a full staff of producers, executives, DJ and assistants. While this may seem like a description of a professional company, this is, in fact, the make-up of Blair Network Communications (BNC), Blair's very own production organization located within the building. BNC is a student-maintained production program that allows teenagers to write and produce their own shows while working in a professional environment.

Photo: G4 computers and a tape deck in BNC.

Photo courtesy of BNC

BNC consists of five divisions: television, radio, public relations, internet and production. In television, students produce 29-minute shows like Double Overtime (a sports show), Face the Music (a show about music) or Rapid Fire (a game show). One show, Game Time Montgomery, is shot and then edited in post-production at the end of a sports season. The radio division has two shows, Blazer Buzz (an informative show) and Bogus Blazer (a dramedy). Meanwhile, the internet division focuses on posting video clips of shows online and getting information about BNC up on the website, and public relations spreads word about BNC shows through posters and often greets guests before shows. The production team helps design sets and trains the crew for each television show.

A stepping stone

Junior Katrina Jabonete joined BNC as an Associate Producer because she wants to go into film after graduating from college. She says that BNC helped her decide more about her future career. "I always thought I wanted to be a scriptwriter, but after actually scriptwriting, I realized I'm not very good at it," she says, laughing. "I might want to consider some other job."

Senior Chris Nguyen-Gia, Television Executive Director, agrees that BNC is helpful for those leaning toward television or radio for their career. His stint last year as a videographer helped him realize his potential in television production. "I'm absolutely positive this is what I want to spend my life doing," he says. He is applying to film schools for college.

BNC advisor and television teacher Shay Taylor doesn't believe that BNC necessarily leads to a career in film or television. She was in BNC herself when she attended Blair, and though she thought she would produce television for children, she has since taught at Eastern Middle School before moving to Blair after the departure of BNC's former advisor, Christopher Lloyd. Taylor moved to Blair because she believed working with high schoolers would be more challenging and rewarding than working with younger children. Taylor originally planned to be a producer for children's television shows, but "now, I'm working with children that produce television, which is the opposite of what I expected."

Senior Daniel Ottalini agrees with Taylor. Though he is a Production Manager, he doesn't plan to go into television; he actually hopes to be an elementary school teacher. As part of Ottalini's job, he has to instruct ninth graders on how to use the production equipment, and he hopes to use his teaching techniques later in the classroom.

Photo: An editing suite.

Photo courtesy of BNC


Learning professionalism

Every month, Jabonete switches to another show to assist the main producer in any tasks they may need completed. Most of her duties have included booking guests and writing scripts, but finding guests is one of the hardest parts of her job, Jabonete maintains, because it involves speaking to professionals and relying on them to arrive on the show date at the designated time. There is always the worry that a guest will cancel last minute and leave producers stranded, similar to what happened during her Double Overtime show in December. The guest called only three hours before the actual show to cancel. Luckily, Jabonete had a number of backup guests to fill in.

The daily ordeals at BNC are all part of a learning process created to strengthen the skills of staff members. "BNC offers opportunity to experience a level of work you can't find anywhere else," says Nguyen-Gia. The organization is "very student-run" so that teenagers in the program will have a taste of a professional working environment.

Jabonete feels that working in BNC has helped strengthen her personal skills and become more professional. "I can approach a lot more people," she says of working in the outside community. She believes BNC has also taught her time management.

The daily grind

There is a specific process that each television show must go through before it airs on Montgomery County public access. After all the television shows are taped live with a crew of Blair students, Nguyen-Gia mails the tapes to Central Office, which controls the programs that are shown to the public. Included with copies of the shows is paperwork such as a copy of the script, the rundown (a detailed list of shouts and times in the show), signed consent and release forms and the signature of Principal Gainous, noting his approval of the programs.

Photo: Production during a show at BNC.

Photo courtesy of BNC


Central Office then selects which programs it actually wants to air and when. Right now, re-runs of old BNC shows can be seen on the station (usually channel 31 or 32), but they aren't scheduled. Taylor wants to change this and get a regular program schedule for Blair shows so that students will know when to watch.

Traditions, gods and utter silliness

For luck before every show, Nguyen-Gia likes to pass around an orange traffic cone that belonged to last year's television head, Mallory Macdonald. He also has the director of each show award a plastic fork or spoon to the "most valuable player" of the evening. The utensil displays the show title, show date and an inscription that reads "MVP."

Nguyen-Gia also likes to remind his division of the three "gods" of BNC: Mallory Macdonald, Ivy Flores, the former Info Flow head and Thomas de Simon, a former videographer.

Upgrades in BNC

Taylor plans on staying at BNC and continuing to revamp its image and equipment. She hopes to obtain Avid, the industry-standard editing program, in the near future so that students will learn on a program that most editors use for feature films. She also wants to feature live webcasts of BNC shows on the site, which she hopes will attract more viewers.

Very few schools can compete with what BNC offers, Taylor says. While BNC is not the only high school organization with these capabilities, she calls it the only "fully-functioning" program like it in the area. She's proud of the program and the work her students have done. "I plan to be here as long as possible," she says.



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Grace Harter. Grace Harter is currently a CAP senior at Blair. She loves anything British, books, music, movies and of course Silver Chips Online. She'd like to close with a quote from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" that is especially profound (and makes reference to her ultimate favorite … More »

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