PROSPER — Prosper ISD was recently named one of the top places to work in DFW for the fourth year in a row, as awarded by the Belo Media Group (Dallas Morning News), and for good reason. In a community that is thriving, the school district continues to create programs that will allow students real-world opportunities that will greatly benefit them in the future.
One of the programs that has garnered a lot of attention recently is Prosper High School Journalism department. The school provides students the chance to gain real-world in the field through two programs: Eagle Nation News and Eagle Nation Online.
Created five years ago by Brian Kennedy, the broadcast adviser at PHS, Eagle Nation News has helped students interested in pursuing a career in broadcast news.
“We do a live daily television show, so we produce about 120-150 shows a year,” Kennedy said. “We’re one of the few in Texas that does live daily content.”
The students create content that streams for both the school district and the community as well. Since Prosper doesn’t have an official local television network, Kennedy said the residents in town have access to Eagle Nation News.
“We serve as both the school scholastic news band also the community as well, so we do a lot of community stories, like their local news station,” he said.
When he arrived in Prosper five years ago, Kennedy said there were about 17 kids in the program. Now in 2017, there are 100 kids enrolled in courses that help run the various shows through Eagle Nation News.
“That entry level year, we’re doing broadcast basics, that second level year, when we feel they’re ready the kids start making content for our shows,” he said. “And then when they’re juniors they can apply for the live broadcast television show, and then when they’re seniors they are producers.”
In his short tenure at Prosper High, Kennedy has already seen tremendous growth within the program from a content perspective.
Last year, the Eagle Nation News’s nightly comedy show caught the attention of bigtime talent. Stephen Colbert was so impressed with their content, he invited the team out to his studio in New York to shadow one of his shows.
“That was our big thing last year, getting our comedy show off the ground,” Kennedy said.
Aside from the comedy, the group is also producing four other shows this semester: a sports game day show on Fridays, a daily newscast, a music and culture show, and a hard news show geared around the same premises as 60 Minutes.
As a basically student-run organization, the program was recently rewarded for their hard work and dedication to the community news. At the 2017 Lone Star Emmy Awards in San Antonio, TX, Prosper High School took home awards in three of the four contests they entered:
Newscast – didn’t win
Arts/culture/entertainment – Midmorning after Ten but Still Just Before Lunch (won)
Hard news series – Bathroom Crawl (won)
Sports feature – A Different Course
(Nominated for all four)
Eagle Nation News also won awards through Journalism Education Association and National Scholastic Press Association. This fall, the group was nominated for a National Pacemaker Award, which is the highest award you can win in the country for high school journalism.
“We sometimes tell the kids that it’s kind of like winning a national title, but there’s multiple schools, and it’s based on the quality of what’s being created,” said Kennedy.
This was the first time Prosper High had been named a finalist for the award. It was also the first year they won. Eagle Nation News was nominated for best in show, where they place third in the nation. In addition, Sola Kantai, a student on the Eagle Nation News broadcast team, was awarded a superior rating for broadcast writing, and Kennedy himself was named National Broadcast Adviser of the Year.
“Over the last four years, we’ve been the top-rated program in the state of Texas. We have 27 state titles in the first four years for various contests,” Kennedy said.
For Kennedy, he said it’s been a great experience working with program in Prosper.
“It’s been good here. I’ve done this in other places, and when I found (Prosper), I really felt like we could grow and do some cool things,” he said. “It’s been very awesome to see the growth.”
For more information on Eagle Nation News, you can visit their website at http://www.prosper-isd.net/Domain/1021. There you can watch live shows and access archived files from previous seasons.