Plum students raise more than $36K in annual Make-A-Wish telethon
Plum High School TV production students learned a hard lesson in live broadcasting this holiday season while raising more than $36,000 for Make-A-Wish.
“It was a little rough here and there, but we all worked through our differences,” said Melinda Pivik, senior and one of the floor directors for the district’s 19th annual telethon Dec. 21. “It makes me feel really good. I always try to do something like this to help the community out, especially with cancer patients and sick kids. It’s not easy for them.”
Floor directors help set the stages and make adjustments when things don’t go according to plan — and this year, they had their work cut out for them. The telethon had three special guest cancellations, and KDKA news anchor and “Hometown High-Q” host Rick Dayton’s segment got pushed from the morning to the afternoon due to a surprise work conflict.
Senior floor director Harley Craig said dealing with those challenges to pull off a record seven-hour, 12-minute live broadcast was a great learning opportunity.
“The cooperation that we all go through and working together as a team, I honestly think it’s a great experience,” Craig said. “The first thing that was going through my mind was, ‘What the heck’s going on?’ It was probably one of the most stressful things I’ve been through, but we were able to combat that. I think we handled it pretty well.”
Craig said last year, students had to do two telethons because the first one didn’t have audio.
Senior and host Jessica Frew interviewed Dayton. She said being a part of the telethon was an experience years in the making, and it was great to meet a professional in her future field of broadcasting.
“I’ve been waiting for this since I was in second grade,” Frew said. “My older sister, Meghan, who graduated in 2014, her senior year, she was a telethon host.
”I could remember sitting in my living room watching her and being like, ‘Wow. That’s so cool. I want to do that.’
“Interviewing Rick, he was amazing. He was really nice, and I kind of felt comfortable going into it. I tried to talk more with him, and I think it turned out to be one of my better interviews.”
The telethon is the culmination of fundraising events held by each school for the charity October through December. Activities included car washes, dress down days and a Mr. High School contest. The students aired highlights of those events and came up with some impromptu interviews to keep the show going.
Other special guests in attendance included Bubba and Melanie Taylor of Star Pittsburgh 100.7 FM, Chris Mueller of 93.7 FM The Fan and Steve Fabian of “Inside Edition,” a Plum alum.
Senior Cody Sepp was a first-time producer and handled a lot of the broadcast’s technical aspects.
“I’ve always loved to mess around with computers,” he said, adding that being behind the controls and producing something people could enjoy was exciting.
Students were coached by teacher and National Honor Society co-sponsor Rick Berrott. Funds were donated to Pittsburgh’s Make-A-Wish Foundation chapter serving West Virginia and all but 10 counties in Pennsylvania.
Berrott said the district has raised about $910,000 since 1999 and has made wishes come true for local families.
“It’s a win for Make-A-Wish because of the amount of money we raise for them,” he said. “It’s a win for the TV students from a technical aspect and the NHS students from a fundraising aspect because they’re giving back. To be in charge of an event that the entire school district does is truly humbling.”
The telethon is held just before the school’s Christmas break each year.
Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @MikeJdiVittorio.