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TV expert channels efforts into school broadcasts

March 22, 2004|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

Jefferson County Schools is becoming home to a growing television broadcast operation that is gaining praise from school officials.

At the center of the operation is Rob Perks, an imaginative television production expert who brings a wealth of experience to the effort.

Former Jefferson County Schools Superintendent David W. Markoe initiated the idea of the school system having its own television channel through a local TV cable service.

Running the school television channel became Perks' responsibility.

One of Perks' jobs is televising Jefferson County Board of Education meetings, a project that was started by the current board in 2002 as a way to get the word out about what is going on in the school system.

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At the beginning of each Board of Education meeting, Perks is often seen sitting behind an array of television production equipment at the back of the room. He has cameras situated in various areas of the room.

Board members wait for the cue from Perks, then the cameras and the meeting get rolling.

After the meeting is taped, it runs four times during a two-week period on Channel 19 through the Adelphia Communications cable service.

Although Perks said he does not have viewership numbers for the meetings, "people do watch it," he said.

"I view it ... as a public service," Perks said.

The broadcasts are just part of Perks' work.

He produces videos for school funding requests and opening day ceremonies for teachers, and offers a lively television broadcast course for Jefferson High School students.

Through the broadcasting class, Jefferson High students produce their own political debate shows, fine arts programs and academic talk shows, Perks said. The shows are broadcast on Channel 19, along with other programs involving students from Jefferson County Schools.

Perks' broadcasting class at Jefferson High gives students the chance to get their own editing, scriptwriting and camera experience. The productions can be seen on "The Juppets," a puppet show produced by Jefferson High School students.

Perks recently showed a reporter part of an episode of "The Juppets." The show opens with blues harmonica music in the background and features a comical dialogue between one of the puppet characters, a Jefferson High student. The interaction between the two eventually leads to a question for "Mr. Science," who is played by a teacher.

About 24 Jefferson High School students are enrolled in Perks' broadcasting class, and the course may be offered to middle school students next year, said Perks, who recently received a Superintendent's Commendation from Superintendent of Schools R. Steven Nichols.

"He does such a great job for us. We can't thank him enough for everything he does," said Board of Education President Lori Stilley.

Besides a background in television, Perks also has worked as a musician.

He grew up in Jefferson County and took his first teaching job in the county as band director at Harpers Ferry Junior High School in 1972.

In 1976, Perks moved to Colorado to pursue graduate studies in music performance. While in Colorado, he worked for Caribou Studios, a music studio that produced albums for bands such as Three Dog Night; Blood, Sweat and Tears; and Chicago. Perks played keyboard parts for bands that recorded at Caribou Studios.

In his studio at the Board of Education office on Mordington Avenue, Perks still has one of his keyboards, "which I refuse to get rid of. It's an antique by today's standards," he said.

While in Colorado, Perks began producing television commercials. He worked with former Disney Co. artists to produce animated commercials, and his efforts included adding sound effects to the commercials.

Perks returned to Jefferson County Schools in 1986 and eventually became assistant band director, then band director at Jefferson High School, a job he held until 2000.

"I put in far more hours in this job than I ever did as band director, but I love it," Perks said.

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