Tag Archives: “Good Morning Staples

Now Streaming: 70 North

WWPT-FM was one of the first high school radio stations in the country.

Decades later, Staples again innovated — this time with an in-school TV show.

Now, our high school once again leads the pack.

Welcome to “70 North.”

With a soft launch last week, the site — named for the school’s physical address — became a clever, irreverent, YouTube-like destination for 1,900 students, scores of staff and faculty members, and anyone else in the world who wants to know what’s going on at that active, creative and very fertile campus.

It’s a work in progress. But what a work it is.

70 North marks the next step in the evolution of television. And whether that TV is based in a high school or broadcasts nationally doesn’t really matter, says media teacher Geno Heiter.

What counts is content. “70 North” has plenty of it. Sports, features, upcoming events, guidance and college news, humor, poetry, reviews, music department concerts, artwork — you name, it will find its way onto the site.

For over a decade, the school was served by “Good Morning Staples.” Devised by former instructors Jim Honeycutt and Mike Zito, and filmed, edited and hosted by students, the show aired 3 times a week, at 8:25 a.m. Every class watched — supposedly — an intriguing mélange of interviews, announcements, sports highlights and more.

It was fun, entertaining — and static.

The television landscape has changed a lot since “Good Morning Staples” marked a fresh way of providing information. Americans — particularly teenagers — no longer sit on a couch and watch a show at a predetermined time.

TV today is all about streaming. People watch on their terms, their schedule — and their devices.

70 North is television for the smartphone age.

A poster for one of the many episodes available from “70 North.”

Just as viewers no longer have to gather around a big screen, creators no longer lug around big (or even moderate-sized) cameras. Great video can be shot on phones everyone carries.

Thanks to TikTok, Snapchat and many other apps, students are used to telling visual stories. They have a different way of telling those stories too, than even people just a few years older.

“70 North” allows them to do just that. Yet it’s hard to describe, and still evolving.

Heiter says, “It’s a platform. It’s whatever they want it to be.”

Sam Gold — a crazily creative senior, and one of the driving forces behind 70 North — calls it “School updates that don’t suck.”

Max Dorsey, shooting a “70 North” show.

Heiter likens “70 North” to Netflix. “You choose what you want, from a lot of options. It’s not one video that’s forced on you.”

But it’s not the Wild West of the web. It’s still a schoolwide communication tool. It uses server space provided by the district. And it’s as educational as it is entertaining.

Geno Heiter (left) and Sam Gold, with “70 North” on the laptop.

Heiter says he’s still “teaching skills, teaching technical ability, teaching how to use sophisticated equipment, how to cover stories, how to engage and build an audience.”

But he’s doing it in a way that meets students — those who create 70 North, and those who watch it — exactly where they are.

Which, these days, is in front of a device. Not a TV screen. Accessible any time, anywhere, by anyone.

Once again, Staples High School is at the forefront.

Just as it will be in 2029, when a new, not-yet-invented form of communication supplants “70 North.”

(Click here for “70 North.” Then bookmark it!)

“Good Morning” Goodbye

Staples High School teachers Jim Honeycutt and Mike Zito invented the school’s Media Lab.

From their funky studios near the cafeteria, the duo taught thousands of students — and oversaw WWPT-FM, the Staples Television Network, a recording studio and much more.

“Good Morning Staples” is one small part of what they’ve done. But since its first broadcast in 2001, the thrice-weekly TV show has had an outsized influence on the school.

Yesterday’s “Good Morning Staples” broadcast was the last of the school year — and their last ever. Both Honeycutt and Zito retire this month.

The 24-minute video offers just a tiny sampling of the work their kids did. It’s a tribute to Staples students’ spectacular energy, dedication, talent and energy.

Which, of course, was unlocked, nurtured and nourished by 2 very special teachers.

Alisan Porter’s Exclusive “Voice”

Last month, “06880” broke the story about former Staples student Alisan Porter’s upcoming appearance on “The Voice.” Her haunting rendition of “Blue Bayou” earned raves from the notoriously hard-to-please judges.

But it took the enterprising journalists at our local high school to snag an exclusive interview with her.

Students working with instructor Jim Honeycutt on the superb “Good Morning Staples” TV show conducted a bi-coastal interview with the woman who — less than 2 decades ago — was a high school student herself. (Okay, one who had already played “Curly Sue” in the movie of the same name.)

Click below for the segment with interviewer Gavin Berger, broadcast earlier today:

We Remember

Every year before Memorial Day, the “Good Morning Staples” TV show honors America’s special holiday.

This year, host Dan Geraghty — a Staples English teacher, and former Army Ranger and National Guardsman — introduced 2 segments about the Vietnam Memorial wall.

One was a poem. The other was a stunning song by former Green Beret Michael McCann, Fairfield University graduate and friend of Jim Honeycutt (the Staples TV production teacher whose class produced the show).

Michael’s song is even more poignant because he is fighting Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. This is his final battle.

The show ends with a reminder to enjoy Monday’s parade, but also to think about what the holiday means — along with Ray Charles’ rousing rendition of “America the Beautiful.”

This is what Staples students saw Thursday morning. It’s something all Westporters should watch this weekend.

(Click here if your browser does not take you directly to YouTube.)

 

Lt. Col. Armas’ Compelling Memorial Day Video

On 9/11, Thomas Armas was a Marine. When the World Trade Center collapsed, most people ran for their lives. He ran toward it. Marines, he says simply, are trained to help.

Lt. Col. Armas went on to serve 3 tours of duty, in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Last week, he told his story on our high school’s TV show, “Good Morning Staples.”

Videos featuring service members are a Memorial Day tradition at Staples. Students in TV Production class spend long hours interviewing; selecting photos and music, and weaving together a compelling, instructive film, which is shown in every class.

The iconic photo of Thomas Armas, carrying a wounded woman from the World Trade Center.

This year’s video is one of the best.

With gentle prodding from senior JJ Mathewson, Armas describes that day at Ground Zero, and life in war zones.

But just as compelling are his insights into what it all means.

“People don’t give their lives for their country,” Armas says. “They give it for their hometowns.” That means, he explains, that Americans should have fun on Memorial Day. Going to the beach, a ballgame or barbecue is exactly why men and women have given their lives: so we can enjoy life.

However, he adds, we also have an obligation to give back.

Lt. Col. Thomas Armas during his “Good Morning Staples” interview.

As a Rye native — growing up in an environment very similar to Westport — he “was given the best childhood a person could have.” He gave back what he could by joining the military. He tells Staples students they don’t have to do that — but they should find some way to contribute to their community and their country, using their time and talents to better the lives of others.

The Staples Media Lab’s 2012 Memorial Day video is vitally important. It’s well researched, loving produced and richly rewarding.

It takes less than 15 minutes to watch.

But the lessons may last a lifetime.

Click below to view: