Wilson Gillett's mass media students at Springstead High School may be well on their way to another award-winning year.
So far, they have won a first-place award in the broadcast feature category and a third-place prize in the broadcast news category of the 1994-95 Florida Scholastic Press Association's District 4 competition, held earlier this month in Orlando.
District 4 includes school districts in the Tampa Bay area from Citrus to Sarasota counties. Competition includes school newspapers, yearbooks and video productions.
The students' goal is to secure first place in the association's state competition, which will be held in Orlando in the Spring.
Gillett thinks his students have a pretty good chance of achieving their goal; they have acquired additional equipment this year that allows them to produce professional videos, he said.
The new equipment also gives them the ability to broadcast the school's morning announcements live. Previously, they have taped the announcements a day in advance.
They will begin live broadcasting next semester, Gillett said. The stage set is being built by construction technology and art students at Springstead.
"I am quite sure that these students can pull in another first place at the state," Gillett said. "They are talented and ambitious, and we have equipment to produce quality material."
Gillett's students brought home a first-place at the state competition two years ago with a news documentary on the Hernando County School Board during the board's indictment for violating Florida's laws on open government meetings.
"The time was right, and that was a hot issue that was of interest to everyone in the state," Gillett said. "We all know that hot issues take top priority in this business."
However, top quality productions _ with or without hot topics _ are winners, he said.
For example, the students' first-place production, called "Water, Water, Nowhere," won at the district competition because it was timely and because of the extensive amount of students' research, Gillett said. It was produced by Kristin Spaid, Steve Rossi and Karen Kuhn.
The film reviewed the controversy over pumping water from well fields in one area to surrounding areas. The students used the Cross Bar Well Field in northern Pasco County as an example. Those wells supply water to St. Petersburg, and some think that as a result of pumping water into Pinellas County, Pasco and Hernando counties are going dry.
"This was an excellent example of a subject that involved many people in a large area, and the students did a great job of covering it," Gillett said.
The third-place production gave an overview of Springstead's 1994-95 school theme: Pride, Process and Performance. It discussed the process of setting goals, working toward them and achieving them, Gillett said. It was produced by sophomores Jenna Pinelli, Craig Ciali and Jason Hampton.
Springstead's mass media students are participating in a new multi-county broadcasting program called 10 Ultimate, which is co-sponsored by WTSP Ch. 10 and Lakewood High School in St. Petersburg. Ten high schools from the Tampa Bay area were invited to participate.
Twice a month, one of Springstead's four-minute productions will be aired. 10 Ultimate can be seen at 7:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. each Saturday.
Recently, a video on dissections in high school science classes was aired. It reviewed the pros and cons of dissection, and included comments from Springstead science teachers Lisa Dickinson and Randy Spaid and several students. It was taped in Dickinson's science classes and showed students dissecting a rat, an animal frequently used to teach anatomy.
The video also profiled a computer program available to teach anatomy for those opposed to dissection.
Mass media classes are high school language arts electives and are offered in ninth through 12th grades. Four levels are taught at each high school.