Newport News Public Schools TV and the Telecommunications Center

images of TV student with equipment

Telecom student Ethan Clinkenbeard usually works behind the scenes. As a TV crew member, his job on video productions is usually camera operator. He finds editing – spending hours at a computer manipulating video, images, graphics, and audio – fascinating. And he particularly loves handling the technical aspects, like lighting and sound, for theatrical productions at his high school.

But recently Clinkenbeard found himself in the spotlight, when he was selected to be profiled for a promotional campaign for Newport News Public Schools called "Student Spotlight."

The "Student Spotlight" campaign started last school year to recognize NNPS students and unique academic programs and clubs. Students are recommended by their principals, teachers, or other school staff members.

Spotlight students can be seen on billboards throughout the city and in newspaper ads. They are featured on NNPS-TV (Channel 47 on Cox, 17 on Verizon), on social media, in NNPS newsletters, and in "Newport News Now," the city’s newsletter.

A different student is highlighted every other week during the spring.

This year, there's an additional aspect to the campaign: each student has a feature story posted on the school district's website at https://sbo.nn.k12.va.us/spotlight/.

The "Student Spotlight" ads have images of the student and a very short profile with their name, school, and grade. It also includes a sentence about what their "thing" is in NNPS that makes them stand out, like "Avid reader who leads by example" or "Planned Black History program" or "Excels in robotics."

See the video
Student Spotlight video - Telecom student Ethan Clinkenbeard

Clinkenbeard's "thing" is "Works on TV and video productions," and his profile even provides evidence: a video of him working at Telecom handling various aspects of video production. The video ends with him flying a drone at Todd Stadium, and even switches to the video he shot with the drone camera of the field down below.

The video was shot by Telecom Supervisor Ray Price and edited by Clinkenbeard, of course.

"For the video, Mr. Price came up with the idea for the script and I changed a few things then we went with that one," Clinkenbeard said via e-mail. "I had most of it memorized but also had it in front of me for some of the shots to read off of just in case."

As an experienced video editor and TV student, Clinkenbeard knows that production affects post-production. He made sure to use the proper inflection when speaking in each scene, so that when the various clips were put together, it would sound consistent.

Clinkenbeard is a Woodside High School senior and in his first year at Telecom. He has worked on a number of productions with the crew including football, basketball, the VSBA convention in Williamsburg, and a Newport News city event. He recently competed at the SkillsUSA Conference in Virginia Beach, in the category of  Job Skill Demonstration, showing how to use Adobe Premiere with preset effects for editing video.

As far as being in the "Spotlight," Clinkenbeard admitted he isn't much of a fan of being in front of the camera.

"I much prefer behind the scenes," he said.