(This story was first published in the November 27, 2013 edition of the Vermont Standard.)
By Katy Savage, Standard Staff
To attract more students, Woodstock Union High School is starting a video marketing campaign filmed and directed by two WUHS alums.
Collen Doyle and Tim Buttner, who own the New York City-based company, One Forest Films, both graduated Woodstock in 2006 and started filming the video last month.
“It’s just a better medium,” said Principal Greg Schillinger. “It’s something we can put on our website. It also just captures the spirit and climate of the school better, which I think is a real positive for Woodstock.”
The video comes at a time when students have more options about where to attend school than ever before. The school choice program, which went into effect this year, allows students to attend any high school in the state.
To increase enrollment over the past several years, representatives from the WUHS have traveled to high school open houses, similar to college fairs, to showcase Woodstock.
“There are families faced with some choices about which middle school or high school to attend, so we’re there to present Woodstock as an option,” Schillinger said. “That continues.” The video is comprised of interviews with students and staff and extracurricular offerings. Schillinger said the video is merely a tool. “The thing that really does the job of interesting students in the school is the programs in the schools itself,” he said. WUHS started using promotional materials 6-7 years ago with handouts and brochures. Since that time, the enrollment numbers from outside the district have increased about six percent.
The school currently has about 20 percent enrollment from outside the district, compared to 13-14 percent six years ago.
“We have more students coming from the school from outside the district than we ever have before,” Schillinger said. “That speaks both to the promotional material and the programs that we offer.”
As of last month, the school had 71 tuition students, up from 46 in 2003. But overall enrollment in the high school has declined by about 50 students since 2003.
Schillinger said the true way to increase enrollment is by improving internal offerings.
“We need to offer innovative programs,” he said. “That’s the pressure. We need to have the best opportunities for the students who are there, and that’s what’s going to attract students.”
The idea to convey Woodstock in a video came from athletic director Jeff Thomas, who borrowed the concept from South Royalton School.
South Royalton School used a similar marketing video as a recruiting tool about five years ago. When Thomas was employed there, he used it in addition to passing out pens and notebooks to potential students.
“Anytime you get a tuition student, it does help as far as money,” Thomas said.
The filming for Woodstock’s video wrapped this week. It highlights WUHS’s greenhouse, athletic facilities and academic offerings.
The goal is to have the video complete by January. Doyle wants to emphasize all that WUHS has to offer.
“Everybody’s involved in it — that’s what makes Woodstock such a special school,” Doyle said. “The community supports it, the parents are there. The faculty give 110 percent. The students can feel that attention and love and I feel like it’s produced a lot of great students.”
“It’s something we can put on our website. It also just captures the spirit and climate of the school better, which I think is a real positive for Woodstock.”
Principal Greg Schillinger.
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