Woodlake Valley Middle School awarded $5,000 grant to convert a room into a recording/media studio


By Patrick Dillon @PDillon_SGN

WOODLAKE — Matt Barcellos understands the need for students to learn new technology. An English language arts teacher by trade and educated in physiology, Barcellos has always been tech savvy and wants to ensure his students at Woodlake Valley Middle School don’t fall behind in the technical skills they will need regardless of their choice in careers. He took over the school’s video documentary class two years ago with the idea of introducing new video recording and editing techniques to his students. 

Now with the help of a $5,000 grant from Lowe’s, Barcellos plans on building a modern recording studio for the class complete with sound proof walls, green screens, and adjustable lights. 

“The most important thing to me was to give the kids access to this type of equipment,” said Matt Barcellos.

The $5,000 grant is through Lowe’s Toolbox for Education program and will be combined with school’s $500 grant from the Central California Clean Air Initiative to convert a room in the wood shop building into a media studio. Barcellos said the money will be used to sound proof the room with dampener panels to block out noise from the adjoining wood shop classes, create a surround green screen to display images on every interior wall, and install adjustable lighting which can be moved around the studio for different effects. Visitors wanting to watch students record will be able to view the studio from the outside through a dual-pane window directly over the work station complete and mixer board.

Once the studio is completed over the summer, students this fall will have the equipment necessary to create project videos such as “MythBesties,” based on the hit Discovery Chanel show “MythBusters” and to produce a student news show which will broadcast into classrooms every morning. 

Since the class debuted at WVMS four years ago, Barcellos said students have had limited access to video equipment. They have two desktop computers and series of laptops, which must be shared with the school’s S.T.E.M and robotics classes. Students have been walking around with laptops using the built-in web camera to record footage for their projects. The school has a few camcorders available to students which provide better video quality that the laptops but the sound quality is still poor. 

Barcellos said even without more modern equipment, the video documentary class has become one of the most popular electives. Over the past two years the school has earned some recognition at local film festivals, even boasting a finalist at the 2017 Slick Rock Film Festival in the category titled Alcohol and Substance Abuse PSA (public service announcement). Barcellos said the skills they are learning will not only be crucial to a future job, but how the classroom environment will change during the course of their education.

“If schools do not have their eye set on technology than I think they are missing the mark,” Barcellos said.

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