The Village Spotlight highlights organizations and/or businesses that have served the South Orange community for a number of years. If you have a recommendation for next quarters' Village Spotlight, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SOMAtv: South Orange Maplewood Community Television
Highlighted: Summer 2021. Vol: VS-02
The Community Relations Committee is proud to recognize SOMAtv as our Summer 2021 Village Spotlight Organization. Please check out their highlight reel below.
SOMAtv is our local public access television station that serves the communities of South Orange and Maplewood. Founded in the mid-1990s as a station for local public access, government, and educational programming, SOMAtv produces shows that focus on many subjects, including careers, pets, books, education, and nostalgia.
In addition to original programming, SOMAtv also covers a number of community events, including South Orange Play Day, Newcomer’s Day, the 24-Hour Music Festival, Maker Madness at Columbia High School as well as local election debates, Town Council and Board of Education meetings.
Over the years SOMAtv has made significant changes to expand its impact, which includes promoting Dustin Dumas to Station Manager in 2018. Ms. Dumas was initially brought on as a featured producer of her show Dustin’s Kaleidoscope. In 2019, she successfully leveraged the station’s professional membership with Jersey Access Group (JAG) to get original SOMAtv shows syndicated. As a result, SOMAtv shows have been picked up over 153 times by television stations across the United States. SOMAtv shows air on 36 stations in 12 U.S. states, a testament to the high-quality content and production of these programs.
As with many other organizations, SOMAtv had to adjust in light of the COVID-19 pandemic since the television studio is located at Columbia High School. Although the school was closed for most of 2020 and into 2021, SOMAtv did not slow down; the station continued producing content via Zoom.
To help get out the vote in the 2020 election, SOMAtv solicited video submissions from residents encouraging their fellow community members to vote. Videos were submitted by over twenty individuals from our diverse community in Spanish, American Sign Language, Nepali, French, and English. These public service announcements (PSAs) were not specific to any political party or special interest group.
In addition, SOMAtv contacted the mayors of Maplewood and South Orange as well as the County Clerk’s office to do a special show on voting this year. Mayor Frank McGehee and County Clerk Chris Durkin participated in a program to help people understand the mail-in ballot process and explain what voters could expect during this pandemic election cycle. Topics discussed included early voting, ballot boxes, mail-in ballots, and curing. The special show was well-received by the community and within a few days, there were over two hundred views on YouTube.
SOMAtv is a member of Jersey Access Group (JAG), a professional organization for the public, educational, and government (PEG) stations where best practices and standards for stations are shared.
Ways to access SOMAtv:
Channel 19 - Cablevision | Channel 22 & 44 - Fios
Channel 35 - Comcast | Channel 22 - Fios | Channel 24 - Fios - Town government broadcasts only
The Community Relations Committee presents the South Orange-Maplewood Adult School in this quarter's inaugural Villiage Spotlight.
South Orange-Maplewood Adult School: A Community School for All Ages
Highlighted: Spring 2021, Vol: VS-01
The South Orange-Maplewood Adult School was founded in 1933 during the Great Depression. Its mission is to be a community school where people can gather to learn, stay informed, and be entertained. The school is the oldest operating Adult School in New Jersey and was named a Local Legacy in 2000 by the Library of Congress. In the last two years, the school has served over 700 South Orange adults and 350 South Orange kids in its Children's Summer Program.
- The Children’s Summer Program typically consists of two, two-week sessions with classes in creative and performing arts, science, coding, woodworking, and sports. It is truly a community program with most classes led by South Orange-Maplewood School District teachers and/or talented community members and the Adult School's friendly "Yellow Shirt" counselors, consisting mainly of Columbia High School students. The program has been running since 1974.
- English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, which the Adult School has provided since 1937, helping the immigrant population adapt to life in the U.S.
- Suzuki Violin and Cello Lessons for grades K-4 and two orchestras for grades 5-8.
- A wide variety of lectures on topics ranging from the future of race relations to the American Movie Musical and personal enrichment classes, such as college planning, finance, languages, fitness, art, technology, and more.
Check out the SOMAS highlight reel
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