Dysart Unified School District students are going live with video of high school sports more often than they planned in year one.
The acceleration of the DUSD students’ return to campus and maintenance of the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s fall sports timeline caused the district to speed up the student broadcasting rollout.
In 2020-21, the district planned to debut a student broadcasting network at three of its high schools. COVID-19 abated enough to allow sports to return, but nowhere near enough to allow full crowds.
The district will allow four tickets to be sold per each football and girls volleyball athlete, including band and spiritline members at football games. For those that cannot get in, the new Dysart Student Broadcasting system will hit the ground running — streaming all varsity football and girls volleyball home games at Dysart, Shadow Ridge, Valley Vista and Willow Canyon high schools.
“We had planned to roll it out slow, but circumstances caused us to make more games available,” said Jim Dean, DUSD assistant superintendent for support services, which includes athletics.
Dysart Student Broadcasting director Brian Yoder said the new program planned to broadcast five football and five basketball games at Dysart, Valley Vista and Willow Canyon high schools, which had a TV and broadcast club apparatus. Since Shadow Ridge did not have a broadcast club, DSB was going to stream two football and two volleyball games at the school in southwest Surprise.
Athletics are one of the program’s tentpoles, along with the district’s academics and arts. The realities of high school sports during conronavirus thrust the games into the spotlight, and event productions began with volleyball games last week.
“We ramped up once we knew kids were coming back to campus in September,” Mr. Yoder said.
Mr. Yoder is a newcomer to the district but a veteran at setting up student broadcasting programs. For 10 years he worked at the flagship Peoria Student Broadcasting Network program at Liberty High School.
The Peoria Unified School District’s program — originally led and developed by the late Rick Johnson — grew from Liberty to programs at the six other PUSD high schools.
Dysart reached out to Mr. Yoder last spring and hired him to start up programs in its high schools. Only Willow Canyon boasted student broadcasting experiences anywhere close to a PSBN program.
“We noted the success the program had at Liberty High School and realized we had an opportunity to bring Brian aboard,” Mr. Dean said.
Mr. Yoder started July 1 but virtual classes for the first month-plus of the school year slowed some plans to implement DSB on campuses.
The new program has a home page here. Each high school has its own “channel” through Vimeo.
“As far as running equipment and working, it’s really been this week,” Mr. Yoder said Sept. 23.
He will visit campuses and lay the groundwork at each site, but DSB — like PSBN — will be a student-driven and teacher led experience at each school. While DSB and PSBN may collaborate, the newer program will grow mostly on its own.
DSB Live’s motto is “Student Driven, Student Produced.” In addition, Mr. Yoder said, student broadcasters soon will produce
Superintendent Dr. Quinn Kellis’ weekly “Super in 60,” video, commercials for their campus as well as other district programs and activities.
“We had to start anew and teach the teachers how to use the equipment. I work with the teachers and students during the day,” Mr. Yoder said.
The goal is to equip students for potential futures in broadcast production and on-air roles. Mr. Yoder said several Liberty PSBN alums went on to study at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.
Some, like Kenyon Ozanne earned their degrees then came back to Liberty to assist the next generation of PSBN talent.
Thus far, Mr. Yoder said 75 students have shown interest district-wide. He said he believes the program can put down roots in DUSD high schools fairly quickly.
“Everything is starting to come together. I think parents will start learning about it,” Mr. Yoder said. “I think this is going to help as a professional stepping stone as the kids to college.”