“Look at him, look at Bowie the cat,” said BHS senior Valerie Le, as she pointed to a picture of a cat splayed out on a couch during the August 24 video bulletin. “In the words of Bowie’s owner, he’s just one big guy doing his thing,” Le said. “Everyone wish Bowie a wonderful day, and I’ll see you next time on BHS pet features.”
Le is one of three chiefs of publicity at BHS, who create triweekly video bulletins peppered with skits, jokes, and special segments such as BHS pet features.
Last year’s chiefs of publicity were Jack Wilan, Adam Wilan, and Lottie Dierks, whose announcement style made an impression on the current publicity team.
“We’re trying to carry on Adam and Jack’s legacy, because what they did was really incredible. I give a lot of props to them,” said Ari Fendel, chief of publicity and BHS senior. “It’s a big word, but they did revolutionize the chief of publicity position with the (announcement) videos.”
The videos are a relic of the pandemic, when announcements typically played over the loudspeaker went online. When school returned in person, Director of Student Activities John Villavicencio continued the announcements in video form. “Most schools do a video bulletin anyways…so I just asked, hey, can I take this over, and let’s try it for a year,” Villavicencio said.
The announcements are recorded and played to classes three days a week. For Fendel, being in the public eye at BHS has its ups and downs.
When one of Fendel’s video clips ended up having poor camera quality, he found himself being hounded by other students critiquing his portion of the bulletin for days. “I really like when teachers and students come up to me and they go oh, my God, you’re that guy from the bulletin, I like the videos… (but) for whatever reason, being a public figure gives people what they believe (is) the right to criticize me to my face, which they do not have that right (to)” Fendel said.
David Rukin, BHS senior and another chief of publicity, loves being BHS famous. “I’ve been asked to sign autographs, I’ve been interviewed for things, I feel like a little celebrity sometimes,” Rukin said.
For Le, being a well-known face at BHS helps her improve the bulletin. People often approach them with requests, ideas, and feedback on the announcement videos, which “gives us a good scope into what we should be doing (on the bulletin),” said Le.
However, not everyone has the chance to see the chiefs of publicity in action.
“Our biggest problem is that teachers won’t play the announcements,” Fendel said. “We’re really trying to make (the bulletin)entertaining so that teachers will want to play them…It’s disappointing, but I know that if we make a better product, then the teachers will be more inclined to…play it.”
Many students don’t watch the bulletin during second period due to their classrooms lacking a projector or because their classes never set aside the time. “(If) there’s time devoted to (the bulletin), we need teachers to play it, and if a teacher is not playing it, we need to figure out why…it ends up being a thing where some kids get information, (and) some don’t,” Villavicencio said. “(I’m) pretty passionate about it because… until we get the community theater…(the bulletin) is the one place (we have) to gather and do something together.”
One way the student bulletin team is trying to increase viewership by including a wide variety of holidays, clubs, celebrations, and people in their videos. According to Le, BHS Pet Features is one way that the announcements are strengthening the community. “It brings people who aren’t necessarily in leadership positions a chance to be a part of the announcements, and it’s pretty fun,” Le said.
Le and Rukin have goals to improve the announcements by finding the right format and balance between delivering useful information and being entertaining. Rukin expressed that they don’t want to, “reinvent the genre, but add to it, you know?” Rukin said.
As for Fendel, all he wants is “to make everyone happy. That’s my goal. I don’t always succeed, but that’s always what I’m trying to do.”