TA Students and Teachers Get Tour of CNN Debate Set

Upper School students at Trident Academy, a K-12 independent school for students with learning differences in Mt. Pleasant, got a behind-the-scenes tour of the CNN set constructed for the January 19, 2012 Republican Presidential debate at the North Charleston Coliseum. CNN’s lead set designer, engineer, lighting director and sound director gave the students a tour of the set, backstage and production trailers.


“It was a rare opportunity to see first-hand a small piece of Americana reflected in the way our political system works,” says Lalla Boatwright, director of the High School at Trident Academy. “It is a jumping off point for us to have discussions about political and economic issues and it also shows our students possibilities of how their artistic and technology abilities can translate into a fun career.”


The students started the day by watching a time-lapse presentation of the set construction that took place over the course of three days. Then the CNN staff explained each of their roles in the production and students were given full access to the stage and podiums. Standing at the podium as the candidates, the students understood the importance of the placements of lights, cameras, speakers and the miles of cable that goes with them.


The CNN staff explained how the traditional school subjects, like math, play into their jobs. They also underscored the importance of classes like music and drama in understanding the artistic side and the importance of ‘video/technology junkies.’


“Our visit was a packed few hours, but the CNN crew was very kind and gracious to let us interrupt their work with questions,” Boatwright says. “In fact, on our way out, they invited us to tour one of their multi-million dollar production trailers. The students said it looked just like what you would see on TV or in the movies. It really was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for which we are so grateful.”