David H. Ponitz Career Technology Center revamps video production lab

--Based on an interview with Jennifer Bryant

The David H. Ponitz Career Technology Center (DCC) is part of the Dayton Public School District in Ohio. It is an urban school, and of the nearly 400 students enrolled in DCC, 89.7% are African-American and 98.3% are economically disadvantaged. The Career Center, for grades 10-12, offers the academic courses required for high school graduation as well as the opportunity to earn a 3-year Career Technical Certificate in the areas of: Allied Health (Dental, Medical), Auto, Business and Marketing, Cosmetology, Engineering Technologies, Food Management, Graphics Communication, Machine Trades, and Radio/TV.

For the Television Broadcasting Program, students are selected through application and must meet certain academic and behavioral requirements. Applicants also tour the facility and are interviewed by the staff. The interview helps assure a match between the student and the program.

Students can participate in Tech Prep Programs and attend Quick Start Classes at Sinclair community college. They can also participate in Post Secondary Education Options (PSEO) after completing their courses at Ponitz. Many students are able to earn college credit while they are still enrolled in high school. There is no cost to students as long as they meet the grade requirements. Students also benefit from scholarship opportunities offered by Sinclair and other area colleges.
Students have the opportunity to work on a related job during their sophomore year of secondary school. They learn employability skills as well as specific skills in their Career-Technical area.


Eleven years ago when Jennifer Bryant, currently Production Specialist for Dayton Public Schools, started as a student at the Ponitz Career Center, there was one AVID® computer that was located in a back room and when students reached senior year they were allowed to use it for a simple project. The AVID software was something students worked toward, “It was linear editing until senior year and then you got to do computer editing—so you got to experience it before you graduated,” says Bryant. Now, Ponitz Career Center boasts a full 20 station video production lab with a suite of AVID products allowing today’s students to use this state-of-the art non-linear editing software beginning immediately in 10th grade. The lab was purchased from the Career Tech budget after careful consideration of the program’s pedagogical needs and available solutions.

In the late 1990’s the technology in the industry began to change. Linear editing which is a slow and manual process was being replaced by digital images and digital editing. At DCC, the video program was able to obtain digital cameras in 1999 but they brought their footage back and “dumped it into SVHS tapes.” The only way to keep it digital was to run it through their single AVID Media Composer® workstation and then out again into their projects. At that point, the teaching team realized, “We were making a lot of work for ourselves,” according to Bryant. “The technology was becoming outdated. It was something that we knew the industry was doing and, because it’s a broadcasting program, we knew we had to do it.”
The discussion moved from adding a second machine to asking “What would happen if we had an entire lab and this is how we did our editing? The linear editing just died out and if our program, as educators, was going to keep up with the industry, we were going to have to move to non-linear editing and that’s what we did. ”

When it was opened in 2001-2002 the DCC AVID Video Lab was one of only three high schools in the country with a full video production lab. The Lab is used by both the student program and the Dayton Public School District’s video production department. The decision was made jointly. The Video Production supervisor said, “If we are going to pride ourselves on being up to date then this is something the district needs to put in to this kind of program.”

At that time, Bryant says, “We had AVID version 1.5 on the Mac54 and we did have another non-linear editing system, it was called the Media 100, which they were using on the video production side. We figured out that Media 100 wasn’t going anywhere, whereas AVID was exploding. AVID was already number one in so many categories, so many production houses were using AVID. We can do the same projects that are done in the real world every day, in our lab.”

Today the TV/Radio Career Technical Certificate offers programs in radio, television broadcasting, and entertainment marketing. Bryant says, “The goal for the students coming out of the program is definitely to have a good knowledge of video editing. We’ve come a long way from just letting them touch it, look at it and do something simple. We want them to have enough knowledge with AVID that when they graduate, if they choose to work for a production company, the company can see they have a good handle on the program, they’re capable, they can edit.”

The Television Broadcasting Program encourages their students to graduate and go to two or four year colleges. DCC has a partnership with a local community college—Sinclair Community College—to support students in moving on to higher education. They offer an associate’s degree in visual communication. Students can earn a Tech Prep Scholarship for $3000 if they pass the requirements relative to grades and testing.

Students can also sign up for the parallel program with Wright State University where they can continue on and get a bachelor’s degree in communication. “But the graduates go to college across the country from the University of Southern California to the University of Cincinnati to the University of Tennessee,” says Bryant. “And they’ve come back after the 2nd year of the 4 year school and are saying ‘it’s like starting over. The teacher says this is what you’re going to do and I want to tell him, no, no, no, there’s a shortcut for that.’ It makes us feel good when students can share something we’ve taught them with a college professor!”

Students begin with projects immediately in their first year. The program has them all work on a Saturn commercial tutorial within the Avid Media Composer initially. They move on from there to do simple projects in sophomore year.
After the tutorial there is a “show” open that they all have to edit. Says Bryant, “Basically it’s a wipe and we run video inside the wipe. The kids shoot things inside of the district and using that and stock footage, and they edit that stuff inside of the wipe. By the time they graduate they will have edited 10 or 15 of those. Those are really easy, but it gets them to see how to use multiple video layers, how the alpha channel works.”

Other activities during the sophomore year include “cutting together news packages, shooting footage and editing their footage,” notes Bryant, “and after they get the B roll down, we want them to understand, again, working with the layers, how to do an interview with B roll and a news package. So there’s a little bit of voice over with a little bit of footage, then there’s the interview with the footage and there’s the name key. And then it goes back to the b roll on top of the interview and then they also start working doing news packages.”

“Right now,” says Bryant, “we have several sophomores who just won’t go home, they’re here saying why don’t you show me how to do something, or how do I do this. It’s really exciting to have kids who are this enthusiastic about doing video. And those are the kids who’re going to move so fast and who are going to do really well, who’re going to come out of this program knowing so much, not just about AVID but about the aesthetics and the art and the design of everything.”

DPS has a cable station that operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is a station that airs content that helps the public schools be successful. Students shoot construction meetings, school plays, graduations, spring concerts, speech contests, spelling bees, teacher of the year, retiree dinners, volunteer receptions, ground breakings, and school dedications, and other school/district events.

Workflow for Student Projects

Selection of a Marketing Appeal
Band Wagon, Humor, etc
Cast of Characters
Music/Sound Effects Selections
Shot Selection
Wide Shot, Mid Shot, Close Up etc
Graphic Sketches
Camera Canon GL2
Mic Sony ECM 55B
Various Tripods (Venten, Miller, O’Conner)
Import Music, Digital Juice and Photoshop graphics if used
Edit in Avid Media Composer
Burn DVD in Avid DVD Sonic
Teacher views project makes comments on writing, shooting composition, use of effects, graphics, design, flow, audio, and technical notes.

The juniors are working on DPS Today Open which is aired as part of the programming on DPS’s open access television channel. Juniors produce a news broadcast for the school community where they do news packages, interviews, and graphics work honing their camera, interviewing and editing skills.

Ponitz Career Center’s Avid Resources:
Avid Unity™ Server (8 terabyte)
Avid Mojo®
Avid® Media Composer®
Avid Sonica®