BARSTOW - Small groups of students huddled around a monitor in classroom 35 on Monday morning staring intently at the screen.

They watched the same seconds-long clip of a recent high school wrestling match over and over again, deciding how to edit the video segment into a program for Aztec 80, Barstow High School's television station. Outside the classroom, other groups of students gathered in the sun around a tripod adjusting the light sensitive settings on the camera to prepare to film a test video.

Members of the TV and video production classes at BHS spend most of their time working together on video projects instead of using textbooks. Students produce their own news show, a 20- to 25-minute broadcast about sporting and school events, and learn skills that they hope will help them in any career field.

"Even if you aren't planning to go into the movie business, you're surrounded by media for most of your life. It's good to learn how it all works," said Jordan Gallinger, 17, a second-year student in the program who spends most of his time filming.

He said that he's glad that the classes' videos are broadcast by Desert West Media on Time Warner Cable channel 910 so that people outside of high school can see the students' work.

"The public can see that were actually learning stuff first-hand," he said.

Gallinger said he signed up for the classes because of a lifelong interest in video, even though he plans to join the Marines after graduation and not head to Hollywood. He said the toughest part of filming is often keeping the camera steady. Many of his fellow students aren't sure how to react when they see the TV class filming around the campus, making videos to be broadcast schoolwide, he said.

"A lot of them see the camera, and they either get in the way saying `ooh, ooh, get me,' or they run away to hide from it," he said.

Other students aren't as camera shy. Danielle Chavez, 17, host of the school's news program, said that she doesn't always stick to her lines while speaking about events on camera because she doesn't want to sound scripted.

"Getting the message across and still sounding natural is probably the hardest part," she said.

She said she'd like to enter into the political field in the future and hopes to better understand the link between politics and the media.

Making news videos may not be a typical homework assignment for most classes, but it's one that Melissa Fierro, 17, said she enjoys.

As the program's news director, Fierro plans out filming tasks, helping to craft video segments into a professional looking program. She said that through the program she's developed an eye for what looks good on camera.

"You want something that is interesting. If you're filming a crowd at a game, you want someone if they're smiling or laughing," she said. "If they're making an interesting or funny face."

In the coming months, Fierro said the group hopes to create more segments with interviews of students, teachers and community members. Recently produced videos show a behind-the-scenes look at the school's homecoming game and marching band.

The program's teacher, Vinney Williams, said the more time students spend filming, the more they will develop teamwork and computer skills that will help them in the future. He said the project-based format of the classes' instruction makes it very different from other school subjects.

"It's not something they're learning by me telling them what to do. Most of the time they have they have to figure out stuff for themselves," he said.

Currently, only 40 students are enrolled in the classes, but Willams said he'd like to see that number grow as the program enters into its third year.

"I just want them to film more," he said.

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