The History of the VCHS Communications Department 1995 The Valley Christian High School Communications Department was established at the Valley Christian Branham campus in the fall of 1995. This was the pivotal year of inspiration to launch what would become one of the finest high school Communications Departments in the nation. The first broadcast Communications courses in 1995 were Intro to TV/Film, taught by Brian Kaelin and theater teacher, Ken Hill, and Radio Broadcasting taught by Brian Kaelin. At that time, journalism and yearbook were not officially in the Communications Department. In 1994, Diann Fugate began teaching Journalism and publishing The Warrior newspaper. Fugate worked with Hillary Estes on the annual school yearbook and in 1995 joined the Communications staff of photography and broadcasting teachers, Brian Kaelin and Jim Howell . The first video class had 12 students (7 boys, 5 girls). The first radio class had 27 students (24 boys and 3 girls). The original radio course began its first year with no budgeted funds. The first day of class had 27 students crowding around a folding table, a broadcast console retrieved from a dumpster, a pair of Shure SM57 microphones, and a couple of portable CD players pulled from faculty cars. The first year surplus broadcast equipment was scrounged from local radio stations, Biola University, and from various friends of the school. In early 1996, the PTPF (parent‐teacher prayer fellowship) donated funds to purchase additional microphones, headsets and a pair of studio monitors. VCS Superintendent, Dr. Clifford Daugherty said, "God used Brian Kaelin to envision, found and develop the Valley Christian Schools Communications Department. Through that innovation and development the department became a leading high school radio and video program in the world, through his vision, passion and dedication. The greatest strength of Brian Kaelin's contribution is that his vision captured the hearts of his students, the school leadership, and the talented engineering capabilities of Werner Vavken, the technical mind behind the dynamic development of Digital Microwave Systems of Silicon Valley." Dr. Daugherty went on to say, "The Communications Department at Valley Christian High School was the first department that truly embodied the Quest for Excellence, and it raised the prospect of what could be accomplished by the Lord Jesus, in the hearts and minds of students at a small but hopeful Christian High School. Indeed, the proof of the power and potential of the Quest for Excellence was first evidenced at Valley Christian Schools Communication Department under the direction of Brian Kaelin.”
Werner Vavken and Brian Kaelin started the world's first high school Internet radio station after visiting an Internet convention in San Francisco. The first KVCH Internet Radio broadcast went live the week before Thanksgiving 1995. Within one year, more than 1 million unique visitors had listened to KVCH. Based on email feedback and the statistics from Real Audio, KVCH had hundreds of regular listeners from all over the world. The students produced daily live programs between 6 AM and 5 PM. Pre‐recorded programming was available during overnight hours. Live‐remote broadcasts were a regular part of the curriculum and included weekly sporting events, concerts, the Billy Graham Crusade, Promise Keepers, two annual music festivals, as well as a weekly live talk show that included live performances from new and emerging artists who visited the Bay Area. Students generated advertising revenue to help support the program, including selling ad packages for home basketball and baseball broadcasts. KVCH was the first station listed in the Alternative section of the Real Audio station presets and was also featured as one of CMJ's Top Internet Broadcasters in the spring of 1997. Valley Christian High School students have been broadcasting online over KVCH radio ever since. After Kaelin left Valley Christian in 2000, Donny Fugate was hired as KVCH Radio General Manager and head of the growing Communications Department. In 2005 KVCH radio marked its 10th anniversary with a gala celebration. During the first year of the film and video production course, the program was lucky to have a single 486 computer running a fancy dos‐based D‐Vision non‐linear editing system, which featured a huge 9 gig external hard‐drive. The class also had access to three single‐chip full‐size SVHS cameras, which were shared between 12 students to shoot the school's first self‐produced video yearbook. After the first year of courses, the program moved into a spacious facility on the Branham campus, which featured 5 individual production studios, offices for the radio staff, and a large classroom/distance learning facility. The student population between the 2 sections of Radio and 2 sections of Video at that time was 81. Dr. Clifford Daugherty, Werner Vavken and Ken Hill were the prime movers selling the Communications Department concept, and developing funding and support for the programs, along with a small army of supportive parents, volunteering time and money to create what has today become the modern state‐of‐the‐art Dr. Clifford Daugherty Communications and Technology Center on the Skyway campus of Valley Christian High School. Pastor Don Fugate taught the Video Yearbook course and produced the Video Yearbook on tape and then
DVD, from 2000 ‐ 2004, with two classes dedicated to videotaping and editing the various Video Yearbook segments. The Video Yearbook documented the entire school year in pictures and sound. In 2002, Terry McElhatton, a TV news veteran with 28 years of experience in both radio and television news, joined the VCHS team as Director of Communications, teaching the Intro to TV/Video/Film courses, then adding Advanced TV and Applied TV. McElhatton then developed the Art of Filmmaking course, which offered students UC approved Fine Arts credit. Along with the television and video courses, The Art of Filmmaking became the second spoke in the visual communications wing, offering budding filmmakers an opportunity to further explore that art form. Nate Marshall, a graduate of the Biola University Film School, came on board in 2004 to teach the craft of filmmaking. Marshall and his wife, Lindsey, both professional screenwriters, developed and added a Scriptwriting course to the Communications Department offerings, designed to develop film screenwriters at an early age. The scriptwriting class feeds the filmmaking courses with screenplays. In the fall of 2005 the Advanced Television students began webcasting live coverage of selected home games in various sports, including football, volleyball, soccer, basketball, baseball and softball. School events were also webcast, such as the Poetry Slam, school plays and dance shows. In 2008 Lauren McElhatton joined the Communications Department staff to teach UC approved Photo Journalism and Advanced Photo Journalism. Her skills were a great add to the staff and her classes provided all the photos for The Vanguard yearbook as well as The Warrior newspaper. The VCHS Communications department is a work constantly in progress; it keeps growing and evolving as students continue to produce award‐winning work. It’s exciting to look out over the horizon to see what God has in store for the department next as we work to serve Him and Glorify His name, in our ongoing Quest for Excellence!
Published on May 1, 2008