Lessons to live runA cooking segment, a live studio audience and a tarantula dare will set this year’s Spartan Telethon apart. For seven hours, students from the school’s TV broadcasting class and SkillsUSA program will juggle cameras, microphones, sound boards, phone lines and a rotating cast of performers. The show will hit the airwaves 1-8 p.m. Dec. 11 on Channel 14 … live.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
A cooking segment, a live studio audience and a tarantula dare will set this year’s Spartan Telethon apart. For seven hours, students from the school’s TV broadcasting class and SkillsUSA program will juggle cameras, microphones, sound boards, phone lines and a rotating cast of performers. The show will hit the airwaves 1-8 p.m. Dec. 11 on Channel 14 … live.
“It’s a game changer,” said Ryan Bayless, a senior and the show’s producer. “We don’t have the luxury of editing out what we don’t like.”
If someone throws up – which happened during the first telethon – or audio cuts out – as it did during the second event – they have to carry on.
“This will really test our skills,” said Spencer Davis, a junior.
Wednesday, the students discussed their work on the annual event.
Bayless has a thick stack of schematics for wiring up the rooms where the telethon will be held. Stages are under construction. Talent lists have been filled. And senior co-hosts Tim Sislo and Liz Sanda are polishing up their jokes.
The effort is to help those in need.
“One hundred percent of the pledges go to the Salvation Army,” said SHS teacher and SkillsUSA advisor Dale VanErt. “There is no operating cost.”
Maj. Rosemary Matson with the Salvation Army of Superior said the students who organize the annual telethon each year are “incredible.” She enjoys watching them orchestrate the live event from the back of the room.
“They know what they’re doing,” Matson said.
“The kids work so hard on it,” said local chiropractor John Lange, the show’s Santa. “They’re so professional,”
This is more than a teaching moment. The efforts of the SkillsUSA and TV Broadcasting students provide Christmas food baskets to families in Superior. This year, 600 families have signed up for holiday help from the Salvation Army. The students have set their fundraising goal at $3,000 this year – enough for 60 food baskets. If they reach that goal, Sanda has promised to hold a tarantula.
“I am an arachnophobe,” she said, but facing that fear has been on her bucket list. She’s not excited about the prospect of holding the hairy critter, but hopes it will be enough incentive to pump up donations.
Not to be outdone, Sislo has promised to wear a bright yellow banana suit to school for a day if they receive $100 in pledges during a 20-minute window.
“We want to do whatever we can to reach our goal,” Sanda said. “Three thousand dollars would help our community a lot.”
Music, magic, a pie-eating contest, dueling football jerseys and a visit from Santa are planned for the telethon. Parents are invited to bring their children to the school to see Santa live on air from 4-4:20 p.m. Another new feature of this year’s event is the live studio audience. In past years, Sanda said, parents have dropped by to watch but they had to stand at the edges of the room. There is a place for them this year. Anyone interested in watching the show in person can drop by Superior High School during the hours of the broadcast and join in. One of the things they can tune in for is J.J. O’Kash’s cooking segment. The SHS senior, who is planning a career as a chef, will whip up a batch of gingerbread cookies on camera.
For the students, pre-planning started the minute the 2009 telethon powered down. They ramped up efforts Oct. 1, assigning jobs and keeping each other on task. What has been the biggest challenge so far?
“Trying to get people to understand that one month is not a lot of time,” Sanda said.
The students said they appreciated the real-world experience of holding their own telethon.
“It’s not just producing for class and for a teacher and for the next assignment,” Bayless said. “I mean, we’re doing it for real and it’s our decision.”
Sanda said they look to VanErt for guidance, but he gives the students the reins. That’s the aim of his classes, VanErt said.
“It’s one of the things I like to do with all my classes, to make them real,” he said.
For the telethon, the students have had to step out of the school setting to book acts, ask for food donations and publicize the telethon.
“They’re meeting with people in the community; they’re dealing with people in the community,” VanErt said. “They have to be responsible.”
And, he said, it lets the students understand the importance helping the community and contributing. In 2008, the telethon raised approximately $2,700 for the Salvation Army. Last year, they collected $2,100.
“It’s cool because we can do something we’re passionate about and it’s benefiting the community,” Bayless said. “It’s a way of community service but it’s also a way of doing something we really enjoy.”
Pledges will be taken from 1-8 p.m. Dec. 11 during the telethon. Call (715) 394-8720, ext. 144, 187, 188 or 210 to make a pledge.