My name is Patrick Muldowney. I’m a 2000 graduate of PHS, and I’m incredibly disappointed to hear about the proposed elimination of the Television Production program at the high school. Today marks my six year anniversary as an employee at ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, and I owe my entire career to the knowledge and passion for the industry that I gained at Plum.
Following graduation, I attended Clarion University of PA for both my Bachelors and Masters degrees. The student-run TV station at Clarion gave me the opportunity to continue my learning hands on, and it wasn’t hard to tell from the start that my experience at Plum had me leaps and bounds ahead of my classmates. This allowed me to excel at Clarion from the start, taking on the role as Sports Director at the station my sophomore and junior years, and Station Manager my senior year. I was able to gain these experiences because I was capable of taking on more responsibility than my peers, who were working hard to learn what I had already been exposed to as a high school student at Plum. Inevitably, it was that head start that gave me the chance to earn an internship at ESPN, which then became a full-time career.
One of my proudest moments since moving to Connecticut was when I was at the ESPN gym one afternoon in a Plum Basketball t-shirt. Out of nowhere, another employee asked me if that was the “same Plum” that produced “that Penguins lipdub”. I couldn’t believe that the work that MY HIGH SCHOOL in my hometown was doing had caught the eye of someone at the Worldwide Leader in Sports.
I’ve come back to Plum each of the last three years for the Make-a-Wish telethon, which has given me a terrific opportunity to network with current students at Plum. Some of the students have made it a point to remain in contact with me as they’re progressing through their college careers. This shows me that these students truly understand the importance of networking, and I know they’ve developed contacts with many of the other individuals that have come to speak at the telethon as well.
Having moved away from Pittsburgh, yet maintaining contact with so many people in the region, it has given me a unique perspective as to how Plum is viewed. I always knew that we carried the reputation of relatively less than dominant sports teams to go along with the “farm town” stereotype, but what I didn’t realize while I was a student was the high level of respect that others have for the education system in the Plum Borough School District. I guess I always took it for granted, because it was all I knew. I fully understand that the board is facing an incredibly tough decision with the current financial situation, and I truly believe that if it were possible, you would be choosing to add, not eliminate programs. However, I understand that these decisions have to be made. All I can ask is for you to take time and consider the long-term impact that the elimination of the TV Production program at Plum could have on the students, and the entire community.
Don’t undervalue the positive impact the countless news stories about the Make-a-Wish telethon have on the perception of the district. Don’t undervalue the HUNDREDS of thousands of worldwide views each lipdub has drawn on YouTube. And lastly, I beg you not to undervalue the importance of the production education that has PHS students poised to excel as they continue on to the next level.
Sincerest thanks for your time,
-Patrick Muldowney, Class of 2000