Gasps were in the air Tuesday at Steele High School as television production students saw just how stiff the competition was in the hunt for the equivalent of an Emmy Award.
Excited to learn whether six Amherst Class of 2016 graduates would take home top honors, the crew of Steele News Live gathered for a live stream of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Student Production Awards.
Erica Zichi and Hannah Gannelli were nominated in the short-form nonfiction category for their coverage of last fall’s violent intruder drill at Steele, which saw police, firefighters, EMTs, helicopter medics, bomb squad technicians, the county SWAT team, sheriff’s deputies, and teachers practice to handle a nightmare unfolding inside the school.
“Accepting Transgender Students,” a piece by Tia Deshuk, Taylor Schultz, Denver Voss, and Sarah Urbanik, was nominated in the public service announcement category.
The segments were produced as part of a student-run daily broadcast that airs at Steele, doubling as a class where students learn how to write, direct, star in, and edit TV news pieces.
Both won at last year’s Great Lakes regional competition but were passed over Tuesday by national judges.
Coming up big across 24 categories were Searider News of Wai’anae High School in Hawaii, Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School in Nashville, and Saint Xavier High School in Cincinnati.
This year’s Amherst TV class has in recent weeks studied pieces by those high-profile programs and were in awe of their production quality.
Teacher Mark Lowrie pointed to those schools’ pieces as setting a high bar and encouraged the class to use the innovative, winning techniques they saw to make the SNL newscast better.
But he also told his students sometimes the awards don’t reflect which pieces are best, simply the preferences of the judges. “It goes to show the judges sometimes want chocolate and sometimes want vanilla flavors, sometimes strawberry,” Lowrie said.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.
Photos by Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times Sarah Miller and Meredith Funderburg hold their breath as winners are announced in the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Student Production Awards.