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Autism Pensacola Will Be Featured During National PBS Broadcast of “American Graduate Day”

Last Updated by Mary Riker on

Day-long Multiplatform Event Celebrates “Stories of Champions” – Individuals and Organizations Committed to Improving Outcomes for Youth and Raising Graduation Rates

Special Guests Include President George W. Bush, Gen. Colin Powell, Jane Pauley, Zendaya, Allison Williams, Juju Chang, Rehema Ellis, Jason Derulo, Billy Bob Thornton and More

PENSACOLA, Fla., September 25, 2015 – WSRE, PBS for the Gulf Coast, has received word from “American Graduate Day 2015” producers in New York that the station’s locally produced “Stories of Champions” video clip about Autism Pensacola will be televised during the day-long “American Graduate Day” broadcast, which premieres Saturday, Oct. 3from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. CDT on PBS stations nationwide. The local piece is scheduled to air during the 2:30 p.m. half-hour block, which will focus on supporting students with special needs.

Broadcast and streamed live from the Tisch WNET Studios at Lincoln Center in New York, the annual multiplatform event is part of the public media initiative, American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen, helping communities bolster graduation rates through the power and reach of local public media stations.

Featuring seven hours of national and local programming, live interviews and performances, “American Graduate Day” will celebrate the exceptional work of individuals and groups who are Champions of Education: those helping youth stay on track to college and career successes.

“American Graduate Day” will be anchored by “Stories of Champions,” a series of 14 short profile pieces scheduled to air every half-hour, which will spotlight individuals and influential figures in local communities around the country who are successfully keeping students on the path to graduation. WSRE’s “Stories of Champions” clip about Autism Pensacola puts the spotlight on Susan Byram, president and CEO of the organization.

“We are thrilled that our piece on Autism Pensacola will be shared with the rest of the country. They regularly bring children to the WSRE Imagination Station at Blue Wahoos Stadium, so we’ve seen first-hand the positive difference they make in the lives of those kids and families,” said Jill Hubbs, WSRE’s director of educational content and services.

WSRE produced three “Stories of Champions” videos for local broadcast leading up to the national “American Graduate Day” event. The local videos also showcase the work and commitment of Laurie Rogers, Pace Center for Girls executive director with Lisa Armstead, Pace Center for Girls teacher; and Jennifer Ponson of Pensacola State College, SkillsUSA regional coordinator. All three videos can also be viewed online at wsre.org/americangraduate.

These local “Stories of Champions” videos, including the one selected for national broadcast, were produced by Hubbs and WSRE producers/directors Ted King and James Roy.

The American Graduate: Let's Make It Happen public media initiative is made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to help communities implement solutions to the high school dropout crisis. Additional funding has been provided by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. 

More about “American Graduate Day 2015”

This year’s national “American Graduate Day” broadcast will also feature seven mini-documentaries that highlight the extraordinary work organizations are doing across the nation to help keep students on the path to graduation and track to college.

Hosted by Soledad O’Brien, award-winning journalist, “American Graduate Day 2015” is set up around critical themes with the goal of inspiring citizens to connect with their local public media station and local community organizations, and get involved as American Graduate Champions in helping the youth of their community succeed.

The broadcast and online event will be divided into 14 half-hour blocks featuring a mix of live breaks and pre-taped partner segments that spotlight the organizations reinvigorating communities around the country and illustrate how they provide support, advice and intervention services to at-risk students, families and schools.

Viewers and online users who are interested in connecting with local organizations and youth asAmerican Graduate Champions can send a text on the day of broadcast or log on to AmericanGraduate.org to find out more about the national and regional organizations and how to help in their hometowns. Viewers will also be invited to participate in the discussion via Twitter using the #AmGrad hashtag and on Facebook.

CONFIRMED “AMERICAN GRADUATE DAY” MODERATORS:

Juju Chang (ABC); Rehema Ellis (NBC); Jane Pauley (CBS); Susie Gharib (Fortune); Rebecca Jarvis (ABC); Bill Ritter (WABC-TV’s Eyewitness News); Hari Sreenivasan (PBS NewsHour Weekend); Lauren Wanko (NJTV News); Mary Alice Williams (NJTV News).  

PARTICIPATING “AMERICAN GRADUATE DAY” NATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS:

Among the national organizations featured are: 4-H, 100 Black Men of Syracuse, ACE Mentor Program of America, America’s Promise Alliance, American Museum of Natural History, Autism Speaks, Baton Rouge Youth Coalition, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Born This Way Foundation, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Children’s Health Fund, Communities in Schools, The Enchanted Circle Theater, Get Schooled, GiGi’s Playhouse, Girl Scouts of America, GO Project, Goodwill® GoodGuides®,Green Bronx Machine, Horizons National, HorseAbility, Imagination Library, John Lennon Educational Tour Bus, Junior Achievement, Kids in Need Foundation, Little Kids Rock, Mario Batali Foundation, Merrimack Hall, Miracle League, Mississippi Alliance for Arts Education, My Brother’s Keeper, Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, The Opportunity Network, Opportunity Village, PBS Student Reporting Labs, R.E.A.D., Reading Is Fundamental, Roadtrip Nation, Save the Children, SEO Scholars, Special Olympics, United Way of America, Urban Dove, VH1 Save the Music Foundation, XCITE, Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, YMCA and Zebra Coalition.

CELEBRITY PARTICIPATION:

President George W. Bush; Gen. Colin and Alma Powell (America’s Promise Alliance); Jason Derulo (VH1 Save the Music Foundation); Zendaya (Get Schooled); Allison Williams (Horizons National); Shaquille O’Neal (My Brother’s Keeper Alliance); Billy Bob Thornton (Merrimack Hall); Paul Shaffer (Little Kids Rock); Dolly Parton (Imagination Library); Ed Asner (Autism Speaks); Penn & Teller (Opportunity Village); Mario Batali (Mario Batali Foundation); U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack (4-H); Regina Carter (VH1 Save the Music Foundation); Sean Casey (The Miracle League); Bob and Suzanne Wright (Autism Speaks) and Cynthia Germanotta (Born This Way Foundation/Emotion Revolution).   

“American Graduate Day 2015” is a production of THIRTEEN Productions, LLC in association with WNET. Michael Kostel is executive producer. Jennifer Rowe is broadcast producer. Chris Brande is national studio segment producer. Helen Maier is national producer, broadcast production. Anna Campbell is co-producer, editor. From the Education Department, Ashley Dinges is project manager and Carole Wacey is vice president, education. Neal Shapiro is executive-in-charge.