Signal Mountain High School senior Sam Boyette will leave a lasting legacy behind at the school with his senior project, a weekly newscast filmed around SMHS he calls "Sup Signal."
The segments inform students, former students and others of what currently is going on at SMHS in an entertaining way.
"Every year something unique comes along in a good school, and this year 'Sup Signal' is that unique thing," said principal Tom McCullough "Most schools have a yearbook or a newspaper. What Sam has done with 'Sup Signal' is roll that into a walking eight-minute clip that's highly anticipated."
As an office assistant, Boyette learned to work the computers connected to the TVs mounted throughout the school on which "Sup Signal" is broadcast every Friday. The newscasts are also available to non-students through YouTube, he said.
"Everyone knows me now," Boyette said. "People come up to me every day and say, 'You should put this in 'Sup Signal.'"
In addition to covering school academics, sports, clubs and events, he also has weekly segments such as "Life in a Day," goofy skits worked in for entertainment value and a "Student of the Week" who gets a pie thrown in their face by "Morphman" Parker Templeton.
SMHS football coach Bill Price allows Boyette to use the same high-quality camera he is paid to film the team with for "Sup Signal," saving him the enormous cost of purchasing similar technology. The secondary mini-HD video camera Boyette loans to a different student each week to create the "Life in a Day" segment is his own, and he was able to acquire $750 worth of equipment such as lighting and microphones by selling $10 "Sup Signal" T-shirts.
Boyette said he films during his study halls and spends around 12 hours on each episode. After he films this year's 32 episodes, he will have clocked 350 hours working on his senior project.
Fellow seniors James Agan and Gabe Reifinger have assisted in brainstorming ideas for filming, but Boyette said otherwise "Sup Signal" is basically a one-man show.
"Thursday nights turn into Friday mornings editing," said Boyette, who finds all of the stories featured on the newscasts as well as writes the scripts for his "reporters" and films all segments.
Boyette said the most rewarding parts of the experience have been forming relationships and making connections around the school. McCullough said Boyette does a good job of including in his newscasts many different groups within the student body, from sixth-graders to the severely handicapped.
"It unites the whole school and raises school spirit immensely," said Boyette. "It's making them much more proud to be a Signal Mountain Eagle and gives them something to look forward to the whole week."
He said filming "Sup Signal" has educated him as well as his 1,300-plus viewers each week about aspects of the school community about which most of the student body would not otherwise have known. He said the project has encouraged him to try new activities, and he will be involved with his first SMHS theater production in January after learning more about the program through one of his "Life in a Day" segments.
"He's become such a staple for our student body each Friday," said McCullough.
Boyette said he has been training two juniors to take over his role once he leaves for college, where he plans to major in film studies or broadcasting.
"It's taught me about who I am and what I want to do with my life," he said. "It's been a blessing to use my God-given talent to my fullest ability."
Like other graduates or exchange students now back in their home countries who watch the newscasts to stay abreast of what is happening at their former school, Boyette plans to check the new episodes once he graduates. He said he looks forward to seeing what his successors do in years to come with the tradition "Sup Signal" leaves behind at SMHS.