By Thomas Sellers Jr.
As the technology has grown and the students changed, the consistent presence of instructor Marshonn Calvin has kept the program and special classes like Trojan TV at an award-winning level.
The latest national awards has been 2019 graduate Ryan Garcia winning first place in the Filmmaking category at the NAACP ACT-SO awards. And the MCHS Broadcasting program earned a 2019 Telly Awards bringing the overall tally to four in 16 years.
Calvin said since the first ACT-SO victory in 2009 by the late Jordan Brooks to the birth of Trojan TV shortly after, the current group of students will enhance the legacy of Trojan Broadcasting.
“God has really blessed everything we tried to do in the past 16 years,” he said. “It’s been Him. It hasn’t been me because to have the kids we’ve had come through here has been amazing. The hard work they’ve put in if it was national competitions or to get the show out every week, to me that’s a blessing.”
This year’s Trojan TV cast includes Delaney Grayson (fashion reporter), Logan Kidwell (news anchor), Matthew Copeland (sports co-host), William Thomason (news manager), Colby Goode (sports director), Kayla Dawson (station manager), Dominique Anderson (assistant station manager), Natalie Mercier (news director), Letavious Vester (production manager), Milton Yarbrough (sports manager), Kemareyon Lewis (photographer), Adrian Dowell (director) and Nadalynn Forrest (entertainment reporter).
“I like what I do because being a manager allows you to be over what’s going on and make sure everything is in order,” Kidwell said. “You get to make sure everything runs smoothly with the show. I like it to look organized when we put it out there and get it out there.
“Before I joined, they had played it sometimes in the hallways,” he added. “I would see it outside. And Mr. Calvin would send it down individually to some teachers and they would play it on the projector. But then Matty and Colby told me about what they do in there. And they got me into it.”
Copeland is a veteran when it comes to Trojan TV. He has matured during his time in the class into a leadership role.
“I’ve been in production for three years now,” he said. “Starting off and getting into it, my friend Tommy Clifton was pretty close to the main person in sports. I just thought it would be cool because I know a lot about sports.
“I thought it would be cool to come in here and talk about something I enjoy outside of school for a grade,” Copeland added. “It’s transition to something more and something I am really good at. Now my friend Colby and I are pretty much over sports. We’ve been that pretty much for the past two years. This year that we’re actually the top people, we get to boss people around. I get to do what I need to do behind the scene and in front of the camera.”
One of the main people in front of the camera this year is replacing junior Gena Parker at the news desk.
“I had big shoes to fill because she made a pretty big impact on news,” Thomason said. “So far I am hoping to bring news more to the front instead of it ‘just being the news. Oh I can watch this when I get home just on TV.’ I’m trying to get out more in the community see what’s going on and get the pieces on that to see what’s going on.”
Grayson has been out on assignments recently interviewing high level contributors involved in her niche’ of fashion.
“I feel that a big role and it’s kind of overwhelming because the previous person over it was Ryan Garcia,” she acknowledged. “His segments were excellent. He’s very good. You can tell he went very much into detail and cared about what he did. I’m not saying I am trying to top him but I want to.
“I feel like fashion is your personality,” the senior continued. “Everybody doesn’t like the same thing. With fashion you’re dealing with your shoes, your hair, your makeup, clothing and accessories. It’s pretty much how you define yourself.”
The one person used to all the equipment and knows the ins and outs is Calvin. Bringing his experience from an award-winning broadcasting career to MCHS almost 20 years ago, Calvin set on a mission to bring that level of success to his students.
“Teaching folks and now their siblings are coming here,” he reflected, “I’m teaching folks nieces and nephews. With it being 10 years as a show and 16 years as a program, I’m enjoying the ride. This is the crew that will take the show to the next level. This will be the first group that the community is seeing everything they’re doing.”
Calvin said people like his first principal Nancy Norwood and master teacher Vera Tolbert gave him the blueprint on how to build his program.
Then people like now Millington Municipal Schools Superintendent Bo Griffin and current MCHS Principal Mark Neal supported Broadcasting since the early days.
“I have Bo Griffin at the Central Office, Mr. Neal is back,” Calvin noted. “Dr. (Clint) Durley is still here and I am close to all three of the guys. They’re very intelligent guys. I’ve learned so much from all three of them as leaders. For me to have that in arsenal and be able to talk to them about things is great.
“Griffin and Neal saw when he was putting the program together,” he added. “During Durley’s tenure as principal he helped support Trojan TV to the next level. It’s an honor to have them as friends. They have given me a lot of great insight.”
That insight has guided several students to careers in broadcasting and other professions. Calvin is currently communicating with alumni about doing a reunion show to celebration Trojan TV 10.
Those past students will join current crop to reminisce about four Telly Awards, a pair of Communication Awards and several ACT-SO honors.
“Have all these kids in here I teach today is a blessing,” Calvin said. “These are relationships that will last a lifetime. The show is bigger than anyone. It’s a movement. You talk all we’ve done from Edward Jones to now. He was the first kid to interview Joe Birch.
“We’ve gone from montages to self-documentaries,” he concluded. “We’ve done music videos and newscast. We’re consistently trying to grow. I believe in my kids, every single one that comes through the door. I love them. Do I stay on them? Yes. But I want to see them reach their full potential.”