Student Union Introduces Virtual Morning Broadcasts

Despite remote learning amidst the pandemic, the Student Union is producing weekly virtual broadcasts to maintain the Stuyvesant tradition.

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By Sasha Socolow

During remote learning in the spring, daily morning announcements were put to a halt given the virtual circumstances of the school year. To keep the tradition going this fall, the Student Union (SU) recently released its first production of weekly Virtual Morning Broadcasts. These broadcasts are released every Monday through e-mail and posted on the SU’s IGTV on Instagram.

Before the pandemic, two student announcers would deliver morning announcements over the PA system at 10:00 a.m. The announcers would recite the Pledge of Allegiance and relay important information and updates. The updates and announcements aspect of Stuyvesant’s traditional announcements has been retained in the SU’s Morning Broadcasts, but they are now filmed ahead of time and must go through substantial post-production editing before being sent to the student body.

The productions require multiple people and moving parts to come together. There are three broadcasters across grades: sophomore Jackson Mushnick, junior Syeda Zahan, and senior Aki Yamaguchi. “Together, they create a script with general updates, student/faculty submitted updates, and SU updates,” junior and SU Vice President Shivali Korgaonkar said in an e-mail interview. “The broadcast is a recorded Zoom call that the presenters edit to form a final video.”

The broadcasts consist of general updates, from School Leadership Team meetings to club updates. Students who wish to have an announcement included can submit through a Google Form. “We’re sending out a form every week that students, teachers, [and] club leaders can fill out […] if they want an announcement to be included,“ senior and Director of Social Media Julie Weiner said. “[Similar to] how morning announcements worked in school [in which] you would go to the main office and you’d get one of those forms […] we’re doing that this year through a Google Form.”

The broadcasts also include non-academic updates consisting of quotes or fun facts that are written by the Communications department, with which the broadcasters can get creative. “We wanted to make the announcements more engaging [with] a favorite theme of the week, quote of the week, and unknown holidays in addition to general announcements,” Mushnick said.

The SU hoped to use the Virtual Morning Broadcasts to build a sense of community among the student body. “In normal circumstances, Stuy is Stuy because of the energy and enthusiasm you feel among students and faculty around the building, and morning announcements played a large role in the community we were able to build,” Korgaonkar said. “The SU wanted students to have the opportunity to actually see their peers communicating new information or updates, instead of reading an [e-mail] or newsletter.”

Due to the versatility of the audio-visual format, broadcasters can be creative with the way they present themselves. Mushnick uses this space to express his performative side. “I love being able to talk in a clear, projected voice and adjust my tone to best communicate the script in an emotive way that connects to the audience,” Mushnick said.

Zahan, on the other hand, enjoys the production’s collaborative aspect. “I also love the interactions we have, and my favorite part, I would say, would have to be when I get to edit the video,” Zahan said.

One point of difficulty for the SU, however, has been creating engaging content. “A challenge was trying to develop other forms of engaging information in addition to the general announcements, which was at the discretion of the announcers. We brainstormed for a long time trying to think about what we should include,” Mushnick said.

Though the Virtual Morning Broadcasts were attempts to emulate the traditional loudspeaker announcements, many students felt that the videos did not, and could not realistically, achieve that same sense. “The ones over the speaker always had a certain ambiance, and it was so iconic how they’d always interrupt class,” an anonymous junior said. “These Virtual Morning Broadcasts are trying to mimic those announcements, but it’s just not the same. Those announcements were that interesting part [of] the day, and we didn’t have a choice to not listen.”

Because of this, many felt unsatisfied by the broadcasts in how they compared to the in-person announcements. “The videos don’t emulate [the original announcements] well, and I don’t think they can. If the objective was to make it normal, it was not [achieved],” an anonymous sophomore said.

Some also felt disinterested by the rigid and scripted nature of the videos. “I don’t feel compelled to watch since I know they’re just reading off a document they wrote to be as neutral as possible,” the junior said.

Nevertheless, some acknowledged that Virtual Morning Broadcasts offered a lot of helpful information. “If there’s ever a time I couldn’t catch up with [school] news, these are a good second bet,” the junior said. “[The videos are] short and sweet.”

Overall, though not all students are fairly satisfied with the execution, the production team is open to receiving feedback and implementing changes to the broadcasts. “I think we’re gonna see how [the Virtual Broadcasts go], and maybe [improve them] based off of the feedback that we get,” Weiner said. “But I’d say that our general goal is to just look for new ways to keep things fun and creative and really encourage people to keep watching them.”