During the Fall of 1994, WHSH-Channel 66, a Boston area TV station, called Maynard High School looking to create a ten-minute feature about WAVM. WAVM accepted, and the students were thrilled. It wasn't often that someone outside the town took an interest in them.
After waiting a couple anxious weeks for the program to be edited and aired, the students finally saw themselves on regional television on Monday morning. However, no one expected what would happen next.
The very next day, the station's phones began ringing off the hook. From as far away as Cape Cod and New Hampshire, high schools and colleges were calling to request tours of WAVM. They had seen Channel 66's special and wanted to witness the program for themselves. Mags and the students were flabbergasted. They hadn't foreseen this situation and were sent scrambling about to honor all of the requests.
On a side note, WAVM still welcomes other schools and organizations to tour the station. To do so, call (978) 897-5213.
Mixed among the calls was Marcia Dudley, State Director of the YMCA's Youth & Government Program. The day Channel 66's program aired, Dudley just happened to be home sick and immediately knew that WAVM would be a good group to get working with the Youth and Government Program that the YMCA organized. When Marcia phoned, Mags welcomed her idea, embarking WAVM on its third major, annual project.
WAVM was invited to its first YMCA project in the Winter of 1995 as a news crew. For Marcia Dudley, WAVM's goal was to keep the legislative students, who were locked away in the Senate Chambers all day, knowledgeable about what was going on in the House Chambers; and vice-versa. For YMCA's Youth and Government, some 300 students from all over Massachusetts take over the State House in Boston for three days to simulate Massachusetts' legislative process. In addition to assuming the roles of Governor, Lt. Governor, State Senators, etc., the students propose, debate, and vote on bills after a full year of preparation researching legislation, preparing speeches, and practicing parliamentary procedures. The State House event culminates in a banquet for the students.
The WAVM crew, including Tracy Reilly and Amy Forand, set up an editing bay in a conference room of the Tremont House, a Boston hotel not far from the State House. "Being the first group," Tracy Reilly said of the event, "we didn't know what to expect. But it was non-stop work."
For the next three days, video crews with interviewers worked 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. covering the event and shuttling footage back to the Tremont House to be edited. At midnight, a half hour program covering the day's events would be aired throughout the hotel's closed- circuit TV system. In addition to that, a compilation reel recapping the whole weekend would be shown at the banquet.
According to Amy Forand, "We were interested in people who were political junkies" and really into the bills they proposed. They also picked the "hot bills" deemed by many to be controversial. Among the more interesting bills, according to Forand, were the ones on euthanasia and legalizing marijuana.
Before long, the WAVM crew realized that they were not just covering the YMCA event, but they too were learning how a bill becomes state law. "It was an awesome experience," said Tracy Reilly. "My eyes were opened to a major facet of government that I never thought of."
1995 YMCA Crew before State House (Front Row, Left to Right) Tracy Reilly, Sue Gorman, Nick Huston, Garrett Wisuri. (Second Row) Brian Cushing, Mike Geldart, Kathy Hurley, Amy Forand. (Top Row) Jason "Spanky" Clark, Kevin Wells, Matt McCall, Eric Pronko
Being chosen to work for the YMCA was a competitive process for the WAVM members. Twelve students would be picked, but no one was allowed to just go. In addition to a letter of intent, the students had to submit a 3-5 minute videotape, proving their ability be fluent in three areas of communications: videotaping, interviewing and editing. Just as important, they had to demonstrate their commitment to the project, because, as mentioned, it would be a long weekend of work.
The 1995 legislative conference went off without a hitch for WAVM. In fact, after the showing of two videos on the Banquet night, the students received a surprise standing ovation, "which we did not expect," recounted Amy Forand. "We thought we were just a nuisance all weekend." However, according to Marcia Dudley, "WAVM was everywhere but were not intrusive. We didn't know how the taping happened. We never noticed the crews"
WAVM has been invited back ever since, because Marcia Dudley says, "M.H.S. and WAVM have the same values as YMCA. It's really a good match." Just as WAVM members learn communications during the project, YMCA students learn the legislative process at Youth and Government. On common ground, both groups learn caring, respect, honesty, and responsibility.
There are now three major projects that WAVM takes on annually: The Beacon Santa Telethon, YMCA's Youth & Government, and the Awards Banquet (to be discussed later). These activities require weeks or months of planning over and above the station's regularly busy schedule. WAVM puts 101% effort into each one.
Relations between YMCA and Maynard High School went so well that YMCA was invited to hold its pre-legislative meetings at M.H.S. The first occurred in the Fall of 1996.