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Former Valley Christian student’s film piece a finalist in NSPA competition

By Loren Kopff

A video piece of close to seven minutes in length by former Valley Christian High student Noah Hanson has been nominated as a finalist to win the National Scholastic Press Association’s Broadcast Story of the Year. The NSPA will hand out first through fifth place awards plus five more honorable mention awards at its national convention in Orlando on Saturday.

Hanson, who was on the VCTV staff last year, went to Uganda, Africa with his father on Apr. 29, 2015 and chronicled his trip there. He titled his piece, ‘Three Things From Africa’.

“Initially I was really surprised because our broadcast program is still growing right now and it’s kind of in its infancy stage,” said V.C. journalism faculty advisor Sharon Zoetewey. “And we don’t do a traditional broadcast show. But I knew out of all the ones that I submitted, that one had the most chance of getting featured, mostly because it was a very unique opportunity for him to go to Africa and get the footage.”

On his last leg of the trip to Uganda, Hanson visited the Good Samaritan orphanage in Kampala where he, his father and some friends sat down and listened to each of the children speak about what they wanted to be or who they were becoming. Hanson became touched when three kids mentioned they were going to India to study film.

Hanson shot all of the footage himself and upon his arrival from Africa, Zoetewey and members of the VCTV staff gave him some minimal input on the voiceover portion of the piece. He put the piece together within a week or two of coming back.

Zoetewey says Hanson was inspired to go to Africa by a senior who went on an epic journey with his father the previous year. Hanson is now attending Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn.

“Noah is a very talented filmmaker and we benefited from his skills a lot last year and his perspectives,” Zoetewey said. “It was definitely the one I knew had the best chance. When I found out, I was very excited for a couple of reasons. One, it’s great for our program and very humbling to be a top 10 in the nation. The other thing that was very nice to hear is that they selected that one and the piece has a very positive message to it and it’s a little uplifting and gives you a perspective on other parts of the world and makes you rethink your own selfishness in a way.”

Zoetewey mentioned that she has submitted entries for this competition in the past, but from articles from the school’s newspaper, the Cross+Section. This was the first time she has submitted a broadcast piece. VCTV has been around for four years as a consistent entity, she added. Hanson’s piece was submitted for a weekly broadcast category this past June and the finalists were announced this past September. She added that each school could submit up to three entries in each category and she submitted three features and a sports broadcast.

“Schools that are top 10 in those other categories; news coverage and the whole show, they have media production classes that are sometimes big,” Zoetewey said. “A lot of times they have a studio and the lighting and are very much modeled after the more traditional news broadcast where they’re sitting at the desk and reading the announcements and cutting away to different segments. We aren’t quite at that stage. We’re still developing for sure.

“It was nice that the NSPA recognized more of an outside of the box approach,” Zoetewey later added. “It’s good storytelling and it’s nice that we have this duality. We’re a Christian school, so we do want to put some of what we believe out there. It’s not always received well in the journalism field if it’s overly Christian.”