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PREP IS ON THE AIR

A web-based news and sports program – inspired and powered by students – is quickly taking shape at St. Francis Preparatory High School in Fresh Meadows.
The brainchild of Assistant Principal Patrick McLaughlin, St. Francis Prep Television (SFP TV) began last season with live news updates featuring students anchoring the program. With the new school year came the opportunity to take the school’s broadcasts to the next level – something McLaughlin has envisioned since setting up a studio in what was once a storage area.
“We’ve gone from analog to digital in just one year,” said McLaughlin. “The kids we have working on this are interested, motivated and hungry to learn every aspect.”
SFP TV, a streaming television station available through the school’s web site, will begin its new incarnation with live broadcasts of home basketball games and will eventually move into other news territories. The school plans to broadcast educational programs, mass and charitable events to complement the sporting events and their news broadcast – which airs Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Besides having student anchors learning about how to be on camera and how to report the news, some students will be deeply involved in the actual production of the program. This will give students a window into all of the behind-the-scenes aspects of television production and broadcasting.
However, old technology and outdated equipment was stifling the learning process for students both in front of and behind the camera. This year, new equipment will allow for a better, more professional on-air product.
Among the new technologies are new computers, a new switchboard and a teleprompter, which helps the anchors, read their lines in a much more natural way. Neil A. Carousso, a sophomore, said that before a teleprompter, the anchors read from a board off screen.
“We couldn’t look straight at the camera the old way, so it didn’t quite look right,” said Carousso, who is currently taking broadcasting class at Hofstra University. “Now everything can be delivered the right way.”
The school enlisted ECM Services, and St. Francis Prep alum Jon Cavallary, to update and upgrade the school broadcast equipment – and Cavallary has even stuck around to train Prep’s next generation of broadcast engineers.
“It’s a lot of fun and I’m learning so much about media,” said O’Sha Williams, an 11th grader avidly interesting in broadcasting. “The new technology makes everything we do so much easier, plus I’m learning a lot from Jon.”
The all-new streamlined SFP TV, sponsored by The Queens Courier, begins broadcasting basketball games this week and will soon broadcast educational programs, mass and charitable events to complement the sporting events and breaking news programs.
With the leadership of a few dedicated students, St. Francis Prep has put itself on the cutting edge of high schools throughout Queens. And McLaughlin believes Prep’s caliber of young students underlines the fact that the best is yet to come.
“It has been a great adventure so far and the experience has been far beyond our wildest dreams,” said McLaughlin. “And it’s only going to improve as we move forward.”

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