The 2018 Homecoming Parade live broadcast collaboration project.
By coordinating the inaugural live stream broadcast of State College Area High School’s Homecoming Parade, the State College Area School District communications team sought to provide an educational opportunity to our broadcast journalism students with a real-world learning experience. In addition, while promoting our innovative learning opportunities, the live broadcast provided a service to our community by allowing them to watch from home.
Our idea was to have students commentate the live broadcast in the style of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. What initially seemed like a simple project ended up being weeks of meetings, strategy sessions and coordinating among administration, teachers and students. There were numerous hurdles to overcome, mostly related to the technicals aspects of doing a live broadcast. While it’s simple to put up your phone and “go live” on Facebook, it’s another thing to bring in a camera crew, microphones, a sound board and special guests — all this while live on the district’s Facebook page.
We initially reached out to teachers who advise the State High broadcast station, WSCH, with the idea of live coverage via Facebook. Liking the proposal, the teachers selected a four-person crew — two commentators, a sound board operator and a camera operator — and assigned the students to begin developing a script. We enlisted the district’s senior IT manager for technical support, all of us meeting with the broadcast crew several times in the high school’s studio to work out a production plan, evaluate potential locations along the parade route, and brainstorm on-air material for the students to research and rehearse the broadcast. Additionally, we ordered special equipment and a professional backdrop covered with district logos to use for the broadcast.
On day of the parade, it took hours to set up a broadcast tent and a vast array of equipment along the route. While we were near the high school, hundreds of yards of power cords and internet cables had to be rolled out. Prior to the parade, we directed the camera, sound board and lights, as well as arranged hand signals and cue cards with the advisors and lined up pre-parade interviews with Superintendent Bob O’Donnell and School Board President Amber Concepcion, to name a few tasks. Throughout the broadcast, we served as the producers of the event to make sure everything flowed as planned.
In the end, the students shined as they completed a historic broadcast, recording a yearly tradition and display of school spirit for posterity. The metrics demonstrated our success on the 43-minute broadcast, as viewers from as far away as Texas and California tuned in. By the end, over 2,000 people had watched, and to date, almost 10,000 have viewed it.
The broadcast video, photos, and an article with further details, including student reflections, can be found below.
Below is the story posted online about the live streamed Homecoming Parade.
This year, anyone could have a front row seat at the State High Homecoming Parade — from anywhere.
For the first time, a team from the school’s broadcast station, WSCH, live streamed the procession on Facebook in the style of the famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade coverage. Before a backdrop adorned with district logos, commentators Ella Simpson and Jack Clark conducted on-air interviews with celebrity guests such as Board President Amber Concepcion and Marching Band Director Paul Leskowicz in between offering tidbits about the participants and floats. Off-camera, Olivia Zhang filmed the action and Caleb Craig monitored the sound board from beneath their production tent along the Westerly Parkway parade route.
Their broadcast, assisted by district communications and IT support staff, was the fruit of diligent research and preparation. Under the direction of journalism advisors Samantha Corza and Sarah Rito, the students spent three weeks gathering their material, honing their scripts and mapping out their technical plan in the high school’s green room studio.
But there was room for spontaneity. During the 43-minute broadcast, Simpson and Clark drew on their school connections with their classmates to provide lively banter for a vast audience.
Peak live viewers, from as far away as Texas and California, totalled 181. By the end of the broadcast, over 2,000 people had tuned in, and to date more than 9,500 have viewed it.
The result impressed Corza.
“I could not be more proud of their live coverage for the Homecoming Parade,” she said. “These students had never provided coverage for a live event, and hit it right out of the park on their first try! This is my first year teaching this group and I’ve been really trying to push them to do more live content. Journalism is best learned on the road actually doing it. You learn from your mistakes, and by going back into the field to correct those mistakes. For this project, I was most impressed by their ability to run it completely by themselves.”
Looking back, each of the crew members reflected on their success:
- Ella Simpson: “I had a really wonderful experience broadcasting the Homecoming Parade. Representing the entire student body was an extremely valuable experience that I will carry with me through the rest of my WSCH endeavors, but also through the rest of my life. I think that public speaking is an important skill, and it was so great to be more involved with it for my school and news team.”
- Jack Clark: Live coverage of the Homecoming parade was something that WSCH hadn't done before and now that we have, it is something that we will have to do again, and maybe even for different events. It was fun reading all of the comments the viewers were posting, and it was very rewarding knowing that all of the hard work we put in to make this run as smoothly as possible paid off.”
- Caleb Craig: “This year, my first year in Journalism and Broadcast, I was asked to do the live broadcast of the parade. I think what I enjoyed the most was making my way into a group of people who were already such a tight-knit group. Truly though, what I learned was an extremely important lesson: If you focus and put your mind to something, it's going to improve your work and take it to the next level.”
- Olivia Zhang: “I was very excited during the entire parade; running the camera was hard but important for the live coverage. In the beginning, I was a little bit nervous, but as the parade got going I learned how to zoom in and out more fluently to improve the coverage.”
One celebrity guest thoroughly enjoyed his time on the set.
“As I walked up here it actually looked like a network TV broadcast with the entire production team, tents and cameras everywhere,” Superintendent Bob O’Donnell said. “These students represented our district with class, as well as helped our community to get a peek at State High’s school spirit! I’m both proud and appreciative of our students, faculty and our communications team who helped make this idea come alive!”