By Steve Sears
Gaelvision, the Roxbury High School Student Media Group, in 2019 is celebrating 30 years in broadcasting.
Deborah Burleigh, certified to teach TV and AV Broadcasting and Elementary Education, has been the advisor to Gaelvision since 2010, and Roxana Caivano, Gaelvision Media Specialist, joined Burleigh in 2011 as co-advisor. “Mrs. Caivano is the glue that keeps it all together,” attests Burleigh. “She manages the operations of our program and has been an incredible addition to our team. It’s hard for us to be everywhere but having someone to manage the busy schedule of RHS which makes it easier. We have a great relationship, and both love the program and students. We probably have just as much fun as they do covering events, because we are both big fans of our Gaels, and Roxana is a Gael alum!”
Gaelvision had its genesis in 1989 as Prime Time Roxbury. Burleigh speaks about the early days. “Rich Cooper was the long-time teacher connected with Prime Time Roxbury as well as Bill Martin who was our Media Specialist. They had a full studio where shows were created on a monthly basis. Bill had a tremendous background in technology and Rich had such a great rapport with the students they built a great program.” Burleigh came on board in 2005 as Director of Community Relations & Community School and worked with both teachers to create a district wide show that appeared on the cable network channel 77. “We had a 30-minute show,” recalls Burleigh, “that highlighted events happening in all of our schools.”
The name was changed to Gaelvision in 2012. “During this time,” says Burleigh, “we refocused on what we felt was needed, and with media releases being more challenging at the elementary level, we had more control of the program if we focused at the high school. It was also easier for students to cover events here, and when we went to block scheduling it became challenging to release students from class to cover events at the other schools. The key focus was Everything RHS! We had a relationship with MSG Varsity that promoted content for them, then their program was eliminated, so we created our own. We use many media platforms – Twitter, Facebook and YouTube and Instagram – to share the story of RHS.”
Gaelvision is a dedicated group that, In Burleigh’s words, “helps tell our story. They live stream football games, wrestling, soccer, and other sporting events, as well as scholarly programs such as NHS (National Honor Society) induction ceremonies and many fine arts programs. Our students away at college tune in, they miss it and it’s a great way to keep them connected. We have many families with out of town friends and relatives who would not be able to see games and special events without our live streaming service.”
Among the challenges faced by Gaelvision are changing technology and staying current to meet the needs of the community – and something else. “Challenges? We have students that are so involved, and the fan section is so fun that at times it’s hard to get students to want to come out of the fan section to cover events. That’s a good challenge having such an active student body. We make it work, though.” Burleigh also gives credit to the deserved. “We have grown tremendously, and I am incredibly grateful for the support of our former Principal and Administration who helped us get this far. We don’t have a studio with all the bells and whistles but have students covering real events on site, and that’s a great experience for them.
The future looks bright for a group that, every May, celebrates the success of the program at their annual Media Conference, and welcomes former students back to speak about their careers. One such guest was Alyssa Acquavella, who spoke about working at Good Morning America and to share in the excitement of receiving her first Emmy Award. “She was one of my first students,” says Burleigh proudly.
Nice things are on the horizon. “We do have some exciting news and we are in the beginning stages of launching a partnership with our school newspaper, The Roxbury Review,” states Burleigh. “We are going to have a platform on-line where you have complete access to the paper and student video productions. I think it’s progressive that we will have all of our media programs working together and highlighting our work in one forum. Tune in to our media outlets for updates this fall for our launch date.”