A New Era: The BDN

A New Era: The BDN

Karlos Mancilla, Staff Writer

Last spring, Tom Scahill retired after 33 years. In his time here, he oversaw the expansion of the drama department and in 1993 he created Darter TV (DTV), which would later be named the Darter News Network (DNN). He was a legend, and naturally, his departure left a rather large hole that needed to be filled. Filling the shoes of someone who had such a vast impact here at Apopka High School is no easy task. The man tasked to fill the role was Mr. Mark Washington. Washington has experience in the broadcast journalism field, as he was formerly employed by WFTV Channel 9 in Orlando and worked in the business on a national level at ESPN. Mr. Washington taught Freshman English last year, as Mr. Scahill’s retirement loomed. This year, Mr. Washington and his TV Production classes plan on launching the Blue Darter Network (BDN).

Mr. Scahill’s 33 year career at Apopka came to an end this spring

The Blue And White spoke with Mr. Washington about his plans and thoughts about his newest endeavor. When asked about the biggest challenge in a year that is already being plagued by so many challenges, Mr. Washington responded, “Two words: GLOBAL PANDEMIC! As we all know, there’s absolutely nothing ‘normal’ about this year… We have to be flexible and roll with the punches. Teaching virtually with busted, outdated, malfunctioning equipment is certainly NOT ideal, but we will adjust, survive and thrive!” Mr. Washington makes note of the outdated equipment that riddled Mr. Scahill’s final years at the helm of the DNN. When asked about the outdated technology, Mr. Washington said, “Since the video equipment is outdated and no longer works properly, the school is renovating the cameras and editing equipment later this year.”

2020 has proven to be a year of change. What we are used to has been thrown out the window. This is especially true when it comes to our new TV program. When asked what he wants to change up about the broadcasts, Mr. Washington tells us, “We have created the BDN YouTube Channel and created the BDN Club after school club for the more experienced TV Production students.” However, Mr. Washington plans on keeping some aspects of the DNN, “As a graduate of AHS, I know how important it is to keep the heart and soul of the DNN legacy going strong. I loved tuning in to the DNN when I was a student here. Mr. Schahill owns all of the copyrights to the DNN which is why we’ve created the BDN this year. Once we are fully up and running we will keep certain segments like Man/Woman on the Street, while also putting our own spin on a few things as well. No matter what we will make Blue Darter Country proud, while having lots of fun in the process!”

Speaking of change, unlike the DNN era, some students will be at home as a result of the pandemic. Mr. Washington has a plan to incorporate the LaunchEd students into the broadcasts. “LaunchEd students have been extremely active and incorporated into this class all year long. Starting in January all students, both in person and online, will begin utilizing a video editing program called ‘WeVideo’ which will allow everyone to plan, collaborate, and create videos to be posted to our YouTube channel. Stay tuned!”Mr. Washington does have one regret, “Unfortunately since the pandemic ended last school year pre-maturely, I unfortunately never got the opportunity to move into the studio and compare notes with Mr. Schahill before he retired. Over Christmas break I will reach out to speak with him. He’s a legend!”

In short, Mr. Washington is assuming a very difficult task and plenty of roadblocks lie ahead. However, Mr. Washington is moving forward with confidence and optimism. All I can say as a former DNN member myself, I wish him well and I have no doubt he can forge a legacy of his own with the BDN.