The year in review in videos

2021 was our best year yet for producing broadcast stories so we thought we would put our best packages together to tell the story of the year


Dave Winter

Sophomore Alice Scott interviews freshman Ben Polega who brought his service dog Friday to school on Aug. 16. The broadcast feature package that came from this interview, “Thank God it’s Friday,” won first place at the fall National Scholastic Press Association Best of Show competition, marking the first time that MacJournalism has earned a Best of Show Award in broadcast journalism.

2021 was a year of first for MacJournalism in the field of broadcast journalism.  For the first time we created broadcast stories that placed in the NSPA Broadcast Story of the Year competition, and we even won first place in the NSPA Best of Show Competition in a broadcast category for the first time.

Because we ventured into the field of broadcast journalism more boldly in 2021 than in any previous year, we thought, on the first Tuesday of 2022, that we should make our first Tuesday Top 10 (actually 15) photo essay of the new year a video review of 2021, featuring some of our best videos depicting some of the most memorable, significant and poignant moments of the year that was 2021.

No. 1 – “A message to President Biden and Vice President Harris from the voters of tomorrow”

By Alice Scott and future McCallum voters

Jan. 29, 2021

As Joe Biden and Kamala Harris assumed their roles as the president and vice president on Jan. 20, PBS Student Reporting Labs asked McCallum students to share what they wanted to see from the Biden-Harris administration. Here is what they had to say.

No. 2 – “Seniors score during final season”

Reporting by Alice Scott, videography by Makenzie Mason

Feb. 5, 2021

Four years of they began their high school basketball careers as timid freshmen, seniors Abby Soto, Abby Robison and Makayla Mason find themselves in the middle of their final basketball season at McCallum — one that looks very different from those of previous years that had full participation from the student body.

“We lost a lot of people,” Soto said. “That affected us because it was people we thought we were going into senior year with and [we were] kind [of] depending on some of them. But throughout time, I think we’ve adapted to it really well.”

The reason for players not returning: the COVID-19 pandemic.

The result: The varsity and freshman teams had to be combined for the season.

And more importantly, the girls have had to step up as leaders for the new players on the team.  And they did just that because Robison, Soto and Mason know the importance of having a strong community with the team, and understand how it creates a more positive experience.

“We try to connect with them by making jokes and actually having conversations with them,” Mason said. “I think it’s these little things, because when you have a personal connection with someone. It’s easier to tell them what to fix on the court.”

“I just let them know that I’m here as a friend,” Robison said. “I think when they’re most themselves, they play the best. And whenever they’re not afraid to fail, then they begin to succeed.”

No. 3 – “Unmatched determination”

By Alice Scott

March 3, 2021

With years of experience under her belt, London Hudnall, the senior co-captain of the McCallum wrestling team, who attended last year’s state competition, is now ranked second in the state in her weight class. Despite these largely individual accomplishments, London’s love of the sport comes from working with others on her team.

No. 4 – “A COVID-19 year in the life at Mac (and middle school)”

By Alice Scott with reporting by Kate Boyle, Anna McClellan and Grace Nugent

March 13, 2021

On the one year anniversary of the first cases of COVID-19 in Austin, and the cancellation of AISD schools before spring break of 2020, McCallum students reflect on their last day of pre-pandemic life.

No. 5 – “Boys basketball 2020-2021 season recap video”

By Kennedy Weatherby

May 2, 2021

After its loss to the Kingwood Panthers in the second round of state playoffs, the varsity boys basketball team completed its 2020-21 season. Led by a core group of eight seniors, the Knights had one of their most successful seasons in team history, ending with a final record of 17-7 and a winning percentage of 71 percent, the highest winning percentage for the Knights in more than 15 years. This was also the first time in 15 years for the Knights to be bi-district champs and advance to the second round of playoffs.

No. 6 – “The fish are drowning”

By Morgan Eye

May 11, 2021

As summer approaches, many students have yet to attend an in-person class or interact face-to-face with their classmates. Instead of being inside classrooms together, lessons have taken place in kitchens and living rooms, or from behind black screens. And while this adjustment has affected all students and teachers, one group that has been uniquely affected by it is this year’s freshman class.

No. 7 – “How families can support transgender and nonbinary teens”

By Alice Scott

June 30, 2021

Last spring, I was selected as a fellow for the PBS Student Reporting Labs yearly Summer Broadcast Academy — an opportunity to spend two weeks in June working with and learning from the PBS team and other industry professionals about video storytelling, production, and journalism. Our assignment for the academy was to create a newsworthy, youth-driven story that was relevant to our community.

The story I told was the personal experiences of coming out as transgender for Jake Waggoner, a rising freshman at McCallum High School, and Wednesday Gomez, a rising sophomore at The Academy of Thought and Industry. I wanted to share their experiences in a way that would allow others to learn the value of supporting transgender youth.

The story was meant to inform my community and increase visibility of young people finding who they are and developing their gender identities. The end result was a piece that shared personal stories of transgender youth from Austin, Texas, in a way that also detailed how friends, families, and strangers can help support and respect these individuals.

No. 8 – “2021 virtual Taco Shack pep rally”

By Morgan Eye, Alice Scott and Kennedy Weatherby

Aug. 26, 2021

With the pandemic still operating locally at a COVID-19 risk factor of Stage 5, principal Nicole Griffith felt an actual pep rally was not in the Taco Shack cards, but she dealt MacJournalism adviser Dave Winter a surprise by asking that he combine the new video powers of MacJournalism along with the adaptive powers of Mac Band, Mac Cheer, the Blue Brigade and the football team to realize a virtual pep rally.

Winter agreed then got in over his head, but Alice Scott, Morgan Eye and Kennedy Weatherby teamed up to rescue their adviser and this virtual pep rally project.

No. 9 – “What does Taco Shack mean to Mac?”

By Grace Nugent and Dave Winter

Aug, 26, 2021

As part of the virtual pep rally project, we asked our local experts to explain what the Taco Shack Bowl means to Mac. Originally the interviews were supposed to be included in the virtual pep rally, but we got a little carried away with our reporting, producing about 10 times more interview footage than we could include in the virtual pep rally, so we decided to make a series of short documentaries about Taco Shack. This was the first segment in the proposed series.

No. 10 – “The sights, sounds and celebrations of Taco Shack 2021”

By Morgan Eye

Sept. 15, 2021

First-year Shield staffer Morgan Eye takes us back to the sights, sounds and celebrations that make up 2021 Taco Shack.

No. 11 – “Thank God it’s Friday”

By Lucy Marco and Alice Scott

Sept. 26, 2021

Ben Polega might be a little fish in a big pond, but at least he has a big furry companion at his side.

“She helps me navigate, she can pick up my phone, she can pick up almost anything that is non-toxic,” Polega said. “She also can open doors and close doors, get help if I’m having a seizure, and currently I am working on helping her learn soccer. She can nose the ball!”

The support that Friday gives Polega goes both ways.

“We do a thing called you scratch my fur, and I’ll scratch your fur, which basically means we do things for each other.”

No. 12 – “Pep rallies back at Mac”

By Alice Scott

Nov. 7, 2021

On Oct. 12, Austin decreased to a stage three COVID risk level, which allowed for in-person pep rallies to resume.

“Fitting a whole school into one gym, it’s loud, it’s crazy, it’s chaotic,” Blue Brigade director Nancy Searle said. “But it’s a fun chaotic. That kinda got the team hyped up, it got Blue Brigade hyped up. It got everyone hyped up.”

“You could see everyone in the crowd cheering,” sophomore varsity cheerleader Hannah VanHouten said. “I think it just encourages you to keep performing. And it’s a lot more fun having people there watching you live, just like a regular pep rally.”

This was the first regular pep rally freshman and sophomores, about half of the school

“I had never experienced it before,” VanHouten said. “I don’t know, it was just exciting to be doing fun high school activities.”

Especially for groups like Blue Brigade and Cheer who haven’t had as many performance opportunities of the year, this event offered a spirited return to tradition.

“Except for Taco Shack and the home games, it hasn’t felt crazy on school spirit,” Blue Brigade captain Charli Cevallos said. “Just because there hasn’t been a time where every single grade has been able to be together and show that school spirit. But everyone being there, yelling for the football game, it was a super good environment and super good energy.”

“It’s fun at football games, but pep rallies are a lot more intimate so [Blue Brigade dancers] get a lot more feedback from the crowd cheering them on,” Searle said. “So I feel like it’s a little bit of normal coming back.”

Nov. 13 – “Coffeehouse makes a comeback”

Reporting by Samantha Powers, video by Caroline Owen and Samantha Powers, editing by Alice Scott

Nov 24, 2021

Students gathered in the library on Nov. 5 for Excalibur’s Coffeehouse, a tradition where students perform original songs, poems and other creative work. The event was sold out. Coffeehouse didn’t happen last year during the pandemic, so the organizers started this year with no prior experience on the events team.

According to co-special events coordinator Keely McNab, the lack of experience may have been a good thing. “I think we’ve been a lot more open with auditions and everything, because in the past it’s usually just been poetry or, like, singing a song,” McNab said, “We kind of opened it up to more [and made the event] a little bit different. We have rhythmic poetry this year, we have an improv pianist. So that’s been a little new.”

No. 14 – ‘I know who I am’: Transgender youth on the value of support, respect for their identities

By Alice Scott

Dec. 30, 2021

As part of her summer experience with PBS NewsHour’s Student Reporting Labs, Alice Scott talked to two transgender teenagers in Texas about their lives and the journey of finding their true identities. The conversation led to a feature package that was so successful it was named one of the top 15 SRL stories of the year. On the same day that that news was announced, a revised version of the feature package aired on the nightly national broadcast of the PBS NewsHour.

No. 15 – “Blue Brigade 2021 year in review”

By Dave Winter and MacJ friends

Dec. 31, 2021

As tough as 2021 was, there sure are a lot of smiles in this photo and video gallery, chronicling the Blue Brigade calendar year that came to a close on the day this video was posted. The background music is “Happy Upbeat Acoustic-27169” by Aleksandr Shamaluev. Used here with permission and non-commercial use.