Letting a teenager who’s never worked with expensive equipment use cameras worth $3,000 to $10,000 sounds crazy. But in Fairmont High School’s Interactive Media room, that’s exactly what happens every day, and it’s all due to the Miami Valley Communications Council.
MVCC donates cameras, production switchers, monitors, power supplies, fiber optic equipment to transmit signals and camera cables to Fairmont’s program. “Last year we donated three high-quality studio cameras,” said Carl Suchomel, government producer and MVCC supervisor.
Laura Hutchens, the director of the junior class for Interactive Media, affirms the importance and magnitude of MVCC’s donations.
“The cameras that we’re using right now are on loan from them. It’s their old production cameras and they are probably $10,000 apiece,” Hutchens said.
MVCC is a communications/technology organization that serves Kettering and seven other area cities. It gets its operating funds from franchise fees that Time Warner and AT&T pay to place their cables over or under the public streets in the eight communities. The cities receive 5 percent of the gross billings and MVCC keeps 3 percent.
These funds allow MVCC to provide many services to Kettering and the other cities at little to no cost, with a goal of helping to strengthen communications between the cities and their citizens.
This is where the connection with Fairmont High School comes in. In addition to donating equipment to help Interactive Media students get hands-on experience, MVCC helps train students.
“That’s the other big piece that they contribute — their technical expertise. I’m not really sure how you get a dollar value on that,” Hutchens said. “Our ability to put video on the Internet through a secure channel is based on research that they have done and support that they give us.”
A large part of MVCC’s video production involves a truck that is used for broadcasting the high school football “Game of the Week” live every Friday in the fall. The IM students and the MVCC staff work closely together inside and outside of the truck during the football games.
Citizens with Time Warner Cable can watch the games live on channels 5 and 6, and those with AT&T U-Verse can see them on channel 9. The following Saturday, the MVCC re-broadcasts the game at noon on Time Warner Channel 21.
MVCC works closely with the students to ensure they know what they’re doing when they leave high school and enter college to continue their media studies or begin to pursue careers in the media. The students recognize what an opportunity this is.
“It gives you a chance to experience the challenges you’ll face in a real workplace,” said junior Robert Thade. “I’m grateful we have the chance to work with the equipment we’ve been given because it will prepare us to work in the real world.”
Junior Nick Jump also appreciates what MVCC does for Fairmont’s Interactive Media students.
“They’ve already offered me a lock-down position for next year,” he said. “Being part of a live production has also helped me see how stressful it can be. I’m incredibly grateful because the stuff they’ve given us really helps.”
Hutchens has been close with a couple of MVCC employees since 1986 when she began working with the council. And it’s not just a business connection; it’s a personal connection as well.
“I’ve known all of these guys; I used to say I knew them when they had hair,” Hutchens said. “I have a long-term personal relationship with them, and they’re just really nice people. Now I know that they do this because they — it seems dorky — but they love us. And we love them.”
For more information on MVCC and what they do, go to http://www.mvcc.net.