Fort Mill Times

‘The Buzz’ in San Diego was about Fort Mill High

Fort Mill High School seniors, from left, Chad O'Donnell, McKenna Cieslak, John Romanski and Stephanie Smith show off their first-place award for the Anchor Team competition from the recent Student Television Network National Conference in San Diego.
Fort Mill High School seniors, from left, Chad O'Donnell, McKenna Cieslak, John Romanski and Stephanie Smith show off their first-place award for the Anchor Team competition from the recent Student Television Network National Conference in San Diego. KATIE RUTLAND

It takes talent to tell a good story, and a promising group of broadcast journalists at Fort Mill High School have now proven they have what it takes to be called the best in the nation.

McKenna Cieslak, Chad O’Donnell, John Romanski and Stephanie Smith brought home a first-place award in the Anchor Team competition at the Student Television Network National Conference in San Diego during spring break.

The four Fort Mill High seniors are part of an honors-level class that produces a weekly television news show for the school.

“The Buzz,” as it’s called, is a 15-minute collection of stories and sports highlights that affect the lives of the Fort Mill High School community.

Karin McKemey teaches the broadcasting class, and took a group of 34 students to San Diego to compete with students from throughout the U.S. and even Russia. Some 2,800 students came to prove their skills.

Schools had to supply video and editing equipment, and some schools have equipment that rivals professional TV news stations.

McKemey said that while that makes it easy for other programs to feel a little defeated from the start, “There’s nothing that takes the place of good story telling,” she said. “It doesn’t matter how fancy your camera is, if you can’t tell a story, you can’t tell a story,” she said.

The anchor competition required students to navigate an unfamiliar city to write, shoot and edit a 60-second script in two hours. Romanski said it can be quite intimidating, but it’s important to remember how to work together.

“We all had to be in the meeting, we all had to help each other film this video, and it helped reinforce that we have to trust each other and rely on each other,” he said.

Cieslak and Romanski were the on-camera talent, but both students said they couldn’t succeeded in the competition without O’Donnell and Smith’s videography and editing skills.

“There’s a lot that goes into it,” Cieslak said. “It’s the script writing, setting it up and actually working as a team. We found that out this break, that it is a team job and at the end of the day we were extremely happy.”

The group that went to San Diego also brought home an honorable mention award for a mobile application competition. They had to tell a seven-second story using only a cellphone.

McKemey said she plans to bring a group to next year’s conference in Atlanta and is hoping to add even more awards to the classroom trophy case.

The winning video can be seen online at vimeo.com/125063703.

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