WESTFORD — Thanks to the a partnership with Avid Technology, Nashoba Valley Technical High School students are working with WestfordCAT, giving them hands-on access to the professional tools of a cutting-edge trade.
Nashoba Tech, with students from seven area towns, and WestfordCAT, the new local cable access channel in Westford, share brand new production facilities, including a TV studio based at the school that is staffed by WestfordCat.
The new channel is backed by Comcast, the town’s cable provider, which funds studio operations via its contract with the town. Robert Barnshaw, the education sales manager for Avid Technology, a Tewksbury-based high-tech media equipment manufacturer, provides the students with technical advice.
The arrangement looks like a win/win from every angle, according to TV/media production instructor William May, WestfordCAT Studio Manager Ron Zimmerman and school and town officials. They celebrated Nashoba Tech’s new facilities and media/theater arts program during a recent open house at the school.
The most compelling kudos came from behind the scenes, where students conducted tours of the multi-room broadcasting complex and demonstrated some of the equipment.
Most were freshmen who were new to the program. Nashoba Tech’s curriculum requires first-year students to sample each technical specialty before picking a major course of study. This year, media/theater arts is one of those courses. Students at the open house were second semester freshmen who had started the course the week before.
One of the knowledgeable newcomers was Robert Pijewski, of Pepperell, who manned a camera. His interest centers on film and photo-editing, he said. Right now, he’s learning to use the equipment and what to do on shoots. Also on the team was Rob’s classmate and friend, Blair Ursprung, of Groton, who said he was having fun in the new program.
Robert Logan, of Ayer, was already into the media scene when he entered Nashoba Tech last fall. The program plumbs his Web design savvy, he said. Not only is Logan a Web wiz who has won online awards for his work, but he’s also an inventor with a bent for animation.
”I do lots of stuff, video-editing, Web design, graphics “ said Logan.
He has created an original game, similar to Dance Dance Revolution that he is currently trying to market. Last year, working with his dad, Robert Logan, the younger Logan created a Web page for his mother, Christine, as a Mothers Day gift.
In the control room, Barnshaw didn’t need much urging to enthusiastically praise the program. The production gear, amps, switches and other items are impressive, but he said none of it was particularly pricey.
What’s cool are the connections, he said. Links between equipment, including an array of Dell computers in the next room, make editing easy.
”So much has changed since I was in high school you can go from shoot to post production and distribution the whole process,” he said.