December 20, 2019
Jersey Village High School senior Kaleb Velez works on a JVTV project. He was recently named one of the PBS Student Reporting Labs Journalist of the Year, an achievement from his extensive work with Jersey Village Television and Student Reporting Labs.
By Beau Brittain and Sierra Rickerson, Jersey Village HS
Dec. 20, 2019—Jersey Village High School senior Kaleb Velez was named one of the PBS Student Reporting Labs (SRL) Journalists of the Year, an achievement from his extensive work with Jersey Village Television (JVTV) and Student Reporting Labs.
SRL gives high school student journalists the opportunity to gain experience in the broadcast news industry, as they report on local stories from their own communities. These stories are then aired locally on PBS member stations around the country and nationwide on the nightly broadcast of PBS NewsHour.
Velez put himself in position for the honor after being among 25 students who earned a spot in the SRL Academy, an all-expenses-paid experience in June in Washington, D.C. Students are able to expand their work, and skills beyond their campus media outlets. Velez is one of thousands of SRL participants, but his work caught the attention of many for its uniqueness and creativity.
“He looks for alternative angles, stories others aren't telling,” Brandy Milson, JVTV adviser, said. “As a director, he has a vision and does what is needed to accomplish that vision. I cannot wait until you guys see what he is working on now. His dedication to quality is what is most remarkable about him.”
Velez embraces the role in being a journalist and telling stories that might not ever be told.
“What truly inspires me to work hard in my journalism is all the people I meet with interesting stories to tell,” he said. “Without them, there is no story to tell. Some of these people go completely unnoticed their whole lives despite their fascinating life story.”
Velez’s work has flourished during his time at Jersey Village, but his passion for journalism and cinematography began years ago. His fascination for storytelling attracted him to the journalism industry.
“When I was young, I developed a love for stories,” he said. “Hearing stories, telling stories and the whole nine yards. Being a journalist provides me with the opportunity to not only hear more fascinating, real life stories, but also to tell them to the public.”
Jersey Village High School senior Kaleb Velez, left, was recently named one of the PBS Student Reporting Labs (SRL) Journalist of the Year. “When I found out…I nearly jumped out of my seat in English,” he said. “It’s an incredible honor and I’m so grateful to PBS for giving me this award.” (Photo by Jackie Orozco, Jersey Village HS)
Velez’s work continues to leave his teachers and peers in awe. When it comes to journalism and videography, Velez puts his best foot forward, sharing the stories he covers.
“Kaleb has a strong vision for the stories he wants to tell,” Milson said. “He is not satisfied with mediocre work or telling cliché stories. He has the curiosity of an investigative journalist, the charisma of an anchor, and the heart of a director. He is also extremely intelligent and has sharp wit which gives his stories a strong point of view. I fully expect him to be very successful in the industry. I cannot wait to see what he does next.”
Elis Estrada, SRL national director, praised Velez for his contributions to the organization.
“It's been an incredible experience watching [Kaleb] grow over the last year through student reporting,” she said. “[He] is creative, smart and resilient; constantly striving for excellence and originality in all his storytelling and journalism projects. [He] has emerged as a true SRL leader and has contributed to some of our most innovative youth media content.”
Jersey Village High School senior Kaleb Velez, standing, helps a fellow Audio/Video Production practicum student on a documentary. He’s credited with using his passion for editing during team projects. “His dedication to quality is what is most remarkable about him,” Brandy Milson, Jersey Village Television adviser, said of Velez. (Photo by Jackie Orozco, Jersey Village HS)