Stand by, in three … two … one … cue awards!

I don’t know about you guys out there in Dayton City Paper land, but it seems like public schools around the country sure do get their fair share of bad press. From this incident to that, I’m sure you can name a few, warranted or not, that make the top news of the day.

But, as I like to say, for every negative news story, there’s a dozen positive ones not being told. Well, drum roll please! How about this awesome, good news story out of Dayton Public Schools?

Yes, you heard right, I used “good news” and “Dayton Public Schools” in the same sentence. It’s radical, I know; I say with tongue firmly planted in cheek, and it’s not a typo.

OK, let’s go back a bit.

Does anyone out there remember Patterson High School downtown?

Located near Fifth Third Field, it was later called Patterson Co-Op, then Patterson Career Center, which was a wonderful program that offered students school, hands-on training in a profession and actual paid work in a job connected to their line of studies. Part of the Patterson group was the Career Academy.

Inside that facility was a radio and TV studio, plus classrooms for youngsters interested in the communications field.

Am I ever going to get to the point of this story?

Now we move to the present; Patterson is long gone, but its wonderful mission lives on. They’re all under one roof at the new David H. Ponitz Career Technology Center, named after the beloved former president of Sinclair Community College.

“The goal is to build skills in students so they can advance directly into the industry, or continue their education at Sinclair or a four-year school,” Deb Pitstick, long-time Ponitz Media Arts instructor said. “Sinclair is a valued partner of Ponitz CTC.”

The TV/radio portion of Ponitz is wonderful – with state-of-the-art cameras, audio and video editing software, etc.

Plus, they have their own TV channel, DPS TV on Time Warner Cable, and radio station, WDPS 89.5 FM. Now that’s hands-on training. And their training is garnering some serious attention.

“Our students won first place in the state by putting together a hard news piece dealing with the shutdown of the government, and bridging that with a soft news piece dealing with the release of new games systems and spending discretionary income,” Pitstick said. “This is also the piece that moved them forward in Nationals to the top ten. One of the people the students interviewed in the government shutdown piece was Arnie Duncan, the U.S. Secretary of Education.”

That submission landed them in Indy.

“The Business Professionals of America National Leadership Conference was held in Indianapolis this year,” Pitstick said. “Schools from every state were on hand competing, and over 4,000 students attended the conference. The area our students competed in was called Broadcast News Production Team.

“In the final round of nationals, the students showed up to compete, and were given a topic and had one and a half hours to produce a one minute piece, including an interview,” Pitstick continued. “They had to sketch out their ideas, shoot and edit within that timeframe.”

Deb, you’re killin’ me! Spill the beans!

“We won first place nationally!” she said. “This first win since the school opened puts Ponitz and Dayton Public Schools on the map as contenders on a national level. Our students are just as talented, and just as capable as any students in the nation.”

What was it like though for the student news team?

“After presenting our newscast, I was highly nervous,” DaQeayce Swain said. “When they announced, ‘first place, Ponitz’ I was just speechless, but happy, too!”

“When they said that we won first place, it was like a weight was lifted off of my shoulders, I was so relieved,” LeTisha Caldwell added. “I’m not the type to give a big reaction, so all I did when they called our name was clap. But inside I was jumping up and down because I was so happy.”

“It was such a beautiful thing to watch as they competed,” Pitstick said. “They applied everything they had been taught and nailed it!”

So, what’s next for this talented bunch?

Well, for one my old “Bucher’s Beat” position may be available at Channel 2 …

“Swain’s World” maybe?



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