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STUTTGART, Germany — Just a couple of hours after anchoring Patch High School’s morning news, Baileigh Sessions was outside filming a scene for a public service announcement slated to eventually air on AFN.

In between all the video production work, the Patch junior still had to focus on the regular classes that fill a student’s day. Though it was an elective course, the video production program at Patch High School, with its heavy workload, means students learn fast that there is no time for procrastinating.

“It’s a lot of fun, but it’s also a lot of work,” said Baileigh. “But I’ve always been interested in broadcasting, so it’s worth it.”

During the past school year, Walter Fritz’s video production class has pumped out more than 35 public service announcements on topics ranging from bullying and suicide to raising awareness about the Combined Federal Campaign. His students also have done 105 radio news spots for AFN this year and more than 1,000 during the past 10 years. In addition, students put together the school’s video yearbook, not to mention the daily news broadcast that’s aired in the school’s classrooms each day.

One thing that sets the program at Patch apart from similar classes at other Department of Defense schools is its close partnership with AFN, which airs many of the students’ productions, Fritz said.

“It really helps the students develop their organizational skills,” said Fritz, a longtime instructor of video production courses at Department of Defense Education Activity Schools.

Between the hours spent on pre-production planning to seeing a video segment through the filming and post-production process, students get plenty of hands-on experience, Fritz said.

On a recent school day at Patch, Fritz’s students were working on their latest public service announcement after getting the morning news ready to air for second period. They were helping the military police in Stuttgart, who wanted a PSA showing residents on Patch Barracks how to operate the pedestrian gate.

“A lot of people have trouble with it, and we’ve gotten complaints,” said Melissa Kreitzer, a security specialist with the MPs in Stuttgart. “Basically, we identified a problem in the community that we wanted to make better.”

That’s when she reached out to Fritz’s class for help.

Following a pre-production meeting, a skit was put together that aimed to help residents understand how to operate the gate.

After a quick rehearsal, the students went to work, testing white balance and camera angles. After that, it was time for action.

Baileigh, who is aiming for a career in broadcasting, said filming such segments is helping her prepare.

“Broadcasting, that’s what I eventually want to do,” she said.

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John covers U.S. military activities across Europe and Africa. Based in Stuttgart, Germany, he previously worked for newspapers in New Jersey, North Carolina and Maryland. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware.
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