Tomahawk Yesterday: A brief history of NC’s news broadcast


Jenny Loveland

Cassia Dunlap and Gerald Harris receive instruction as they prepare to film a show similar to Tomahawk Today. Those enrolled in the Audio-Video Technology and Film pathway learn to produce more than the regular news package shown first thing in Homeroom; they also learn scripting, writing, filming, and editing for creative projects such as the one shown.

Jenny Loveland, Staff

All NC students know the routine: the lights in homeroom dim, the countdown begins, a catchy intro tune plays and anchors from the school’s student news network, Tomahawk Today, greet them. News, weather and skits follow one after another, showcasing the work of the students who do it all. Airing every week, the history of Tomahawk Today seems without end or beginning, but as Chant writer, Seth Mcnew said in his piece on the matter, when exactly did Tomahawk Today begin to take over the televisions of NC?

Starting in 2009, Tomahawk Today brought consistency and creativity to NC, demonstrated every Friday.  Before Tomahawk Today, students of the Audio-Video Technology and Film pathway produced the occasional show, airing it a couple of times a month at most. Former Audio-Video Technology and Film teacher, Josh Dempsey, suggested a more regular show: a weekly school news broadcast.

Thus, Tomahawk Today emerged. With the idea approved, Dempsey’s students gradually began producing shows once, twice, and then five times a week.  After a slew of successful shows, teachers began looking forward to the informative news segments and students enjoyed the skits and creative pieces referencing popular culture and appealing to their sense of humor. This year, the SPEAR schedule necessitated a reduction in the show’s frequency, limiting it to once a week on Fridays. While the basis of Tomahawk Today does not vary, the people operating it do.

“I joined as a freshman in the second semester. We had really great people like Mark Alano, Erik Perez, and Josh Arias. People don’t really know them [now], but they really helped shape Tomahawk to what it is today, ” senior producer Taylor Mason said.

As incoming team members join and seasoned producers leave, the show’s mantle shifts from those who know the ropes to less-experienced aspiring filmmakers. This poses problems for the staff of Tomahawk Today. Every student undergoes a learning curve while also striving to create the highest quality of the material they can, no matter their experience level.

“The majority of the people who actually do the show Tomahawk don’t really have any video experience, so we’re trying to train them and get them the basics on how to make videos, and what you see on-air is usually their videos, so while it may not be the best quality, it’s a learning experience [for them],” Mason said. 

The program provides insights for experienced students, too. Both Senior Producers expressed lessons they learned as they taught the next generation of filmmakers, anchors, and editors.

“I love being a senior producer because I love teaching upcoming people how to use the equipment, direct, and make videos. It’s a learning experience for us, too,” senior and Senior Producer Maddie Hewitt said.

Over time, the show’s effects on the student body became tangible to Dempsey.

“I absolutely love what [Tomahawk Today] did for my program, and for the school. I really felt like there was a culture change after we started putting out a consistent product. It was a lot of work, but it led to some really good relationships and amazing experiences for the students. We have had students leave the program and go on to study at major universities, such as the University of Georgia, George Washington University, Georgia State University, and Syracuse University. It was great to see how creating a program like this led to so many opportunities for my students,” Dempsey said.

These opportunities and experiences still manifest themselves today through Tomahawk staff, new and old, as they learn how to produce quality videos or teach the incoming students in their turn. Tomahawk Today maintains its purpose as a vehicle for teaching, learning, and growth in its students.

“I have a lot of hope in the incoming freshmen, the new people that come in, as they learn to produce.  Every Tomahawk show, they learn how to do things. Even though the show may not look its best now, this is their first year, and I’m hoping that once they get to that [upperclassmen] level, they will be able to run the show well,” Senior Producer Maddie Hewitt said.