Barb Cast exposes DeKalb High School students to multimedia production

Students behind Barb Cast produce hype video displayed across Jumbotron during IHSA Wrestling Championship

Johnny Howard, a junior at DeKalb High School, checks out a camera in the studio Thursday, March 7, 2024, at the school. Howard is part of the BarbCast network that broadcasts live streaming video of sports and events at the school as well as putting together promotional materials.

DeKALB – There’s nothing like getting a crowd hyped. So says Owen Foster.

Foster is among a group of students behind Barb Cast, a new video production and graphics club at DeKalb High School.

“It was great. I mean, the ego boost was just amazing,” Foster said of the crowd at the IHSA wrestling state championships. “You know, the confidence. It was nice seeing everybody seeing what you do.”

Barb Cast members had a special opportunity to produce a hype video that was displayed across the Jumbotron during the IHSA wrestling state championships in February in Champaign.

Expenses for the trip, including a four-night stay in two rooms, transportation costs and meal allowances, were approved in the amount of $1,360 by the DeKalb School District 428 Board in a 5-0 vote in February.

JD Oliva, faculty advisor for Barb Cast, said program is meant to help students navigate the digital age.

“The idea is to expose kids to how to create multimedia projects in a digital world,” Oliva said. “We do the streams with Barb Cast. They’re always doing stuff with [Adobe] Photoshop and [Adobe] Illustrator. They’re working on printing posters today. The whole idea is to create stuff digitally.”

Barb Cast has become the brainchild of Oliva since Peter Goff, the district’s athletic director, approached him about teaching at the high school.

Oliva said the Barb Cast program had not been active for several years before coming on board to teach.

He said he took the lead on the program after the previous faculty advisor, Brian Allen, died.

“In 2022, [Goff] talked to me about coming in because I had been coaching wrestling here since 2016,” Oliva said. “My background is in film and video production. I spent 20 years working in film and video. I’ve been coaching here. And they said, ‘How would you like to make a change and teach?’ So I jumped on board. It’s been a great change for me. It’s my second year here as a teacher, and it’s the first year here we’ve really got the Barb Cast program up and running.”

DeKalb High School junior Johnny Howard said his favorite part about Barb Cast is working with the tech.

“I think it’s definitely the camera work because I really enjoy being behind the camera and the mechanics of the camera,” Howard said. “It’s good to get hands-on experience in the real-world environment than I would if I was working with a company.”

DeKalb High School senior Lane Schumacher said he’s enjoyed the hands-on opportunities of Barb Cast.

“I really like the experience of going out and taking pictures of other people and meeting other people … getting the experience of seeing new places,” Schumacher said.

Howard said that since joining Barb Cast, he’s eyed ways to get additional exposure with photography and video production.

“I’ve been starting to look outside of school for opportunities, as well,” Howard said.

Schumacher said he’s going to miss being part of Barb Cast once he graduates.

“I am applying for a photography job,” he said.

Foster said he can see himself taking part in Barb Cast again should the high school offer similar opportunities next year.

“The whole reason we do this is for experience, and I’ve taken what I’ve learned here and I’ve started my own freelance business and offered my own personal time to be hired for jobs like this,” Foster said.

Have a Question about this article?