Brian “Cyclone” Cizek, a former “Good Morning ’Stoga” weatherman, grabbed a laptop out of the cart and opened up the Internet browser, ready to find out the day’s forecast–just as he had done when he attended Conestoga.
“It feels great [to be back]. It’s like I never left,” said Cizek, who graduated in 2011. He currently attends Washington University in St. Louis.
Cizek, along with 28 other “Good Morning ‘Stoga” (GMS) alumni, returned to the Conestoga television studio from Dec. 19 through Dec. 23 for the annual GMS Alumni Week. This year’s Alumni Week welcomed back the most alumni in GMS history.
Jon Jankowski, from the Conestoga class of 2009, said he owes his success in college to T/E TV, Tredyffrin-Easttown School District’s television network.
“I would say to any kid who wants to go into journalism, take advantage of everything you have [at Conestoga],” Jankowksi said. “Take advantage of The Spoke if you’re into newspaper, take advantage of T/E TV if you want to be on TV when you grow up.”
Jankowski is a broadcast journalism major at Kent State University in Ohio. During his time at Conestoga, Jankowski produced and anchored on the “Triple J” show, a weekly thirty minute show whose name originated from his initials.
GMS Alumni prepare to go on air for the daily broadcast. Photos Zach Lowry for The SPOKE
Also from the Conestoga class of 2009, Henry Rome was excited to return to the studio for his second alumni week. Rome was the former editor-in-chief of The Spoke and an anchor on GMS. He said he is thankful for the support of Susan Houseman, who has taught the Advanced Television course for seven years and has advised The Spoke for ten years.
“[Ms. Houseman] is the reason that I am doing what I’m doing today,” Rome said. “She was a mentor, a friend, a teacher, a fellow journalist, and I think without her, I don’t think this studio would be the way it is now, or The Spoke would be the way it is now. She has really upped our game and she’s inspired countless students to do their best.”
Conestoga class of 2008 graduate Mike Schon is looking forward to a career in broadcast journalism. He attends Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y. Because of his experience at Conestoga and the connections he has made at Colgate, Schon thinks his dream of being a news anchor could soon become a reality.
“Everything has led me to CBS news, where I will be conducting a final interview in January for “60 Minutes” and the nightly news,” Schon said. “I’m hoping to go the national route and make it onto national TV. I have options at FOX, CNN and NBC, as well.”
Former Conestoga student Dan McKinney, who graduated in 2008, is a broadcast journalism major at Temple University. He has interned at CBS 3, the Philadelphia Union and NBC 10. McKinney said he appreciates all of the opportunities that Conestoga offered him.
“[The TV studio] was a launching pad. It gave me experience, a chance to get my hands on the equipment before a lot of students that I’m studying with at Temple have done before. It gives you a really big head start and that’s really valuable, especially in this day and age,” McKinney said.
Class of 2008 graduate Courtie Jaffé said that she appreciated the opportunity to use Final Cut, a video editing software that the Conestoga TV studio offers its students.
“[Final Cut] is the single greatest thing I’ve ever learned [at the TV studio], Jaffé said. “When most people were just learning Final Cut [in college], I had the knowledge and I was able to edit these movies in class a lot faster. I’m so glad that I had the base experience here.”
Conestoga graduates anchor during GMS Alumni Week. Almost thirty alumni of the morning announcements returned to the television studio from Dec. 19-23.
Jaffé is a senior at Wake Forest University in North Carolina. She said that her experiences at Conestoga have led her to discover even more techniques in college.
“I am the director of the news at Wake Forest, so I’m in charge of the whole news program for our campus,” Jaffé said. “Starting [at Conestoga], I was talent. But there was so much that went on behind the camera, that when I got to school, I kind of decided that I wanted to see the other side of things. So I decided to check out the behind the camera stuff and I love it.”
Jaffé is interested in producing children’s television programs when she graduates college.
Among those who returned for Alumni Week were Greg Brown, Erica DiRico, Chris D’Angelo, Dennis Chao, Tom McElwee and Christina Fiorentino from the class of 2008 and David Shapiro, Justine Burt and Chris DiNardo from the class of 2009. From the class of 2010 were James Connors, Jennifer Stanton, Nicole Dillon, Kacie O’Neil, Micki Fahner and Jennifer Yoegel, and 2011 graduates Andrea Iezzi, Graham Lenker, Audrey Uchimoto, Rebekah Atchinson, Michelle Squitieri, Alex Brown, Alex Nofer and Jamie Campbell all took part in the event.
“[At “Good Morning ’Stoga”], you get to be an actual reporter,” Iezzi said. “And that’s exactly what you would do whether you’re in college as a journalism major, or actually working with your career being a reporter.”