MCHS teacher Greg Boutestein mugs for the camera with students Aaron MacIntyre and Rose van Brabant at the MCTV desk.
by Tristan Turner
photos by Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – The MCTV program is a live news broadcast that airs from October to June at lunch on televisions throughout Morinville Community High School (MCHS), and can also be found online. The program is entirely staffed by students from grades nine through twelve who work to learn the skills required in television production. Groups of students work to write, produce, edit, and conduct interviews about events occurring at the school, and in the community at large.
MCHS teacher Greg Boutestein heads the program and has been working with students in the community for nearly two decades. “I started here officially on staff in March of ‘95, but I had been [at MCHS] volunteering the month before,” said Boutestein, discussing the beginning of his tenure as an instructor and head of the student-led MCTV program at MCHS. “The school was looking for someone that could teach a program and operate the studio… and luckily I kinda had both criteria. I had an [Education] degree and I also had a background in television production because I took radio and television arts at NAIT, so it was kind of serendipity I guess.”
While Boutestein says the MCTV program has become more news and information-based over recent years, he shared that the program was not as traditional at its founding in March of 1995; “Originally it was less of a news show and more of a variety program, there wasn’t as much emphasis on the pre-produced segments, it was more just killing 30 minutes of airtime,” said Boutestein. “That was a real challenge, but every week these kids came up with something.” Boutestein went on to discuss how current MCHS students are trying to bring some of the spontaneity back from the earlier programs while still incorporating it with their pre-produced format. “There is an evolution going on now where we’re going to keep what we have, but also kind of look back to the past for that spontaneity and that kind of crazy pioneering spirit that got the show going in the first place.”
Above left: Boutestein at the camera.
Above: Ben Lawrence works the board in the studio.
Looking to use their skills
While the MCTV program is celebrating its 19th anniversary, Boutestein says that he has hopes for some of his students being able to compete provincially with Skills Alberta, an organization that annually hosts a province-wide skills and trade competition in programs that range from plumbing to video production. Before his students are able to compete provincially however, they must participate in regional competitions hosted at NAIT where Morinville students will be facing competitors from Edmonton. “We’ve got a pretty tough regional qualifier to get through because we’re going up against some of the big schools from Edmonton, and we’ve done alright, though it’s been a little disappoining, [MCTV students] haven’t been able to compete at provincials since the regional qualifiers began three years ago,” said Boutestein. “We’ve been close to competing, but we just haven’t got into the top three [in the Edmonton region] that’s required to compete at provincials. Hopefully this year will be the year we make it.” Boutestein hopes that his MCTV students will join other MCHS students who are competing in hair styling and automotive servicing at the provincial competition.
While Boutestein is hopeful that his students will attend Skills Alberta, he remains proud of the work they do every week in his MCTV class. “These kids work their tail off, and when they’re on, they’re just incredible. These last two shows we’re solid. They’re just such great shows; well scripted, well produced and everyone is just firing on all cylinders, it’s really been cool to see… and that’s why I love doing it, they just keep nailing it and they end up going on into the industry.”
Readers interested in watching the episodes of MCTV can find a link to recently aired and many archived episodes on the MCHS website at mchs.gsacrd.ab.ca.
A panorama of the MCTV studio.
Boutestein standing in front of the studio’s green screen.