Ronald Reagan Doral TV students broadcast, record high school graduations at FIU

Students at Ronald Reagan Doral Senior High TV production department annually broadcast and record every high school graduation held at Florida International University.
Students at Ronald Reagan Doral Senior High TV production department annually broadcast and record every high school graduation held at Florida International University. Miami Herald Staff

As the end of the school year approaches, hundreds of high school seniors will walk across the stage in the US Century Bank Arena at Florida International University. They will receive their diplomas, wave to their parents and culminate their last four years of secondary education.

The end of the year also marks Ronald Reagan Doral Senior High TV production (RTV) department’s busiest season. RTV annually takes the challenge to broadcast and record every high school graduation held at FIU.

The idea sparked with Reagan’s first graduating class in 2009. “After filming only ours that year, we found out no one was broadcasting or recording the other schools. So we informed our principal at the time the kind of equipment we needed and he helped us buy it. And then we offered other schools to have us broadcast the ceremonies and allow us to sell the DVDs as a fundraiser for our program,” TV production teacher Charles Lampard said.

Since then, RTV has recorded all the graduations hosted at FIU.

“They prepare all year with different live events like football, volleyball, and basketball games. On top of our daily news show,” Lampard said.

Miami is a predominantly immigrant populated city, therefore many of the graduates’ family members can’t personally see them walk across the stage. However, by visiting people from all over the world can tune in to the ceremonies.

“The [RTV] students get a kick out of seeing how many people are watching since we have the audience count right there. We have had audiences from 50 to 300 people,” Lampard said.

This year, Reagan is in charge of broadcasting more than 15 schools’ graduation ceremonies.

“What’s surprising this year is that I have all freshman and sophomores working these graduations. I used to only have juniors and seniors sign up,” Lampard said.

This is the first year RTV will broadcast in HD.

“So far it’s been fun. I’ve been doing a lot of work and really getting into video communication and I plan to get into filmmaking, whether it’s directing them, creating them, or acting in them,” sophomore and second-year TV student Carlos Irazabal said.

Carlos and others have volunteered to broadcast all the ceremonies, a seven-day ordeal.

“These kids come in at around 7 in the morning and if they’re doing all of them that day [morning, afternoon, and night], then they will leave at 11 p.m.” Lampard said.

All the money raised by selling the graduation videos goes toward buying the latest equipment as well as costs for competitions.

RTV annually attends conventions such as Florida Scholastic Press Association (FSPA), Skills USA, and Student Television Network (STN). These conventions are designed to give high school students the opportunity to compete with schools at a district, state, and national level. While also providing networking opportunities with professionals in the industry through seminars.

In the past ten years, RTV has been awarded from first place to honorable mention in these competitions.

In March, RTV students flew to San Diego to attend STN. One of the competitions required four students to produce a PSA in eight hours. RTV received honorable mention for their work.

“We didn’t know it was going to happen we were really surprised. When they called our name we just froze and said did they call the right school?” sophomore Alexia Lamela said.

“It was really fun flying across the country to compete in something I really enjoy doing,” sophomore Valentina Andrade, who was also part of the PSA team, said. Both Lamela and Andrade are also working every single graduation ceremony this year.

TV production has been known to be a fun exploratory elective, but for these students it has become a career path. Providing them with hands on experience on all aspects of TV, from reporting to producing. They have also been certified in Adobe Premiere Editing program.

“It’s a great experience because it helps me learn different jobs in the field,” Andrade said.

“I really would like to thank Lampard for teaching me things I could use in real life and in my future career,” Irazabal said. Lamela added, ”Yeah, because of this class I know what I want to do as a career.”