BETHLEHEM – Students at Bethlehem High School (BHS) are the first in the county to have received television production equipment from a matching grant from the state.

The nine students enrolled in the class have access to $30,000 in equipment with which they can earn up to 13 different professional career certifications and a high school fine arts credit.

Teacher Sheila Richards was contacted by Education Sports Entertainment Networks (ESE), which expressed a desire to help bring the equipment into the school. ESE contacted Florida Governor Rick Scott who then earmarked funds through education consortiums for audio-visual technology.

$11,000 in funds from the state were then matched by ESE. Contracts were drawn up, and ESE delivered $30,000 in equipment to BHS, including two state-of-the-art television-station grade cameras with tripods.

Although Richards admits she doesn’t know much about T.V. Production, she is happy students that have taken to the technology.

"ESE came and trained us for a day, and the kids took right to it," said Richards. "I am so happy I have tech-savvy kids in this class."

The students stress that the new class is a group learning experience.

"Mrs. Richards doesn’t learn from us; we learn from each other," said Junior Kodi Crager.

The class produces a morning show each Monday that includes morning announcements, sports, weather, and a human interest story.

"It’s not a hard class, but we each have a job to do, said Senior Kross Smith. "We write our own scripts and have things that are expected of us." Smith is also the anchorman for the show.

"We do a broadcast of about 5 to 7 minutes every Monday," said Smith. "We aren’t a major news channel, but we try our best."

Television production is one of five academies offered at BHS where students can earn certificates in the respective fields.

Other certificate opportunities include culinary arts and aeronautics. Each student participating in these career-path classes will graduate at least one of 13 industry certifications offered through the BHS programs.

Junior Seth Johnson says TV Production has helped pull him out of his shell, along with allowing him to do something he loves: editing.

"I have always wanted to do something in editing, so this class was a perfect fit," said Johnson. "I also wanted to find a way to put myself out there more, and this class has helped me do that."

Johnson also serves as an anchor for human interest stories.

After students return from Christmas break, the crew will begin live-streaming basketball games, complete with commentary. A link to this live stream will be available on the school district website, http://www.hdsb.org/

Following the success of the program's inaugural year, Richards hopes to have two TV Production classes available next school year.

"Many students have expressed interest in taking this class after seeing what we’ve done," she said. "I am hoping to have enough students for two classes next school year."

Principal Brent Jones says he is excited about the new career path option the program provides BHS students.

"We strive as educators to have our students career ready," said Jones. "We are excited to have another class join our academies to help them achieve that goal."