Jeff Bale creates video series on missed senior events

2020%3A+What+You+Missed+is+a+six-part+video+series+that+details+six+senior+year+milestones+that+the+Class+of+2020+lost+due+to+school+closure.+

Graphic illustration by Rachel Wu

2020: What You Missed is a six-part video series that details six senior year milestones that the Class of 2020 lost due to school closure.

Rachel Wu

From prom to graduation, events that were long anticipated milestones for the Class of 2020 have been canceled or moved online due to the coronavirus pandemic. With many devastated seniors unable to experience these defining moments of their senior year, if not their entire high school experience, social studies teacher Jeff Bale created a six-part video series breaking down each milestone titled 2020: What You Missed. 

Over the course of 11 days from May 11 to May 22, Bale published six videos on his Youtube channel, each dedicated to one of six major events or aspects of the end of senior year: prom, senior performances, senoritis, yearbooks, graduation and grad night. In each video, Bale breaks down each event in various formats, ranging from a monologue in front of the camera to stop motion skits using Iron Man figurines. For the second half of the videos, Bale follows with tips to recreate the experience, such as messaging friends and teachers to show appreciation or even using Christmas lights as senior cords, along with the occasional rating out of five on how much of a miss the event was; one being the least and five indicating the most. For senior Shree Phadke, one of Bale’s students, hearing about the videos from an email sent by Bale to his students came at no surprise. 

“He’s always been one to go out of his way to make sure his students are having a good time,” Phadke said. “Given that the last two months of senior year are supposed to be spectacular, he probably figured that this was one way to give back. Though it won’t make up for the missed senior experiences like prom and in-person graduation, Mr. Bale’s videos were enough to convince me that maybe these events are just glorified and that missing them definitely shouldn’t be as catastrophic as everyone makes it sound.” 

The making of the video series was motivated by two reasons. The first of which came after the shelter-in-place order when Bale’s students asked him how he felt about the loss of their senior year. The second reason was more personal. Since Bale had been a Lynbrook student himself as a part of the Class of 2000, 2020 marks the 20th anniversary of his graduation. Creating the video series on the high school experience has given Bale the perfect opportunity to reflect on his high school life and all that has happened during the 20 years since. 

“Looking back, one of the reasons why I was open to coming back and teaching at Lynbrook was the fact that I had a positive experience,” Bale said. “I do believe that one of the things I do for my students is always to try to use my own experiences to encourage them to have an even better high school experience than I did.” 

After a week of planning the video series, Bale began executing the filming portion of the video-making process. He constructed a makeshift studio in his garage, using equipment including a camera, lights, a table and a rectangular piece of cardboard with the title of the series painted in blue, yellow and black. Recording each video required two takes in which Bale would begin by recording himself talking about anything he could think of relating to the topic of the video, and would then identify what worked and what didn’t from the initial take before doing the second take for the video. 

Filming for each video occurred both during the day and the night. From 9 p.m. to 12 a.m., Bale spent hours filming in his garage. As for the scenes shot outdoors such as those on Lynbrook campus, Bale filmed in the afternoon during his son’s naptime. In total, Bale estimates investing 12 hours of work into each video and aimed to publish each video two to three days apart starting from May 11. 

“I’ll say that having that schedule was pretty awesome during quarantine because it forces me to have a goal and a deadline to meet,” Bale said. “First of all, for a personal goal and having something to shoot for I found it to be a very valuable experience.” 

Walking down memory lane and reflecting on the shared memories with old classmates and friends evoked a strong sense of nostalgia for Bale. While brainstorming ideas for the videos, Bale had the opportunity to reconnect with former students and classmates as he called them to ask about their own high school experiences. 

“In many ways, the whole process was a way for me to reflect on the relationships that I formed in high school and how much I really do value those people,” said Bale. “Honestly when I went through the whole process, I was completely stunned by how many people I haven’t seen. It just gave me a whole sense of appreciation for it.” 

Known for his humor, Bale was sure to use comedic elements into his videos, but he also stayed mindful about the loss of these much anticipated milestones. 

“I really tried to strike some balance in the video between letting people know how special these events were and including humor and poking fun at the whole situation,” Bale said. “I really wanted to strike a tone that was balanced so that people can enjoy it and have some laughs, but also be thoughtful about it.” 

This balance resonated with senior Lakshay Maharana, one of Bale’s students that was featured in the fourth episode of Bale’s video series about yearbooks. 

“The videos made me miss [the senior events] even more because Bale posted footage of his prom and it seemed fun alongside his detailed explanations,” said Maharana. “They were pretty funny and honestly were a pretty good outlook on the events that we missed so that we can virtually experience some of it.” 

As for social studies teacher David Pugh, Bale’s videos bring positivity during these difficult times. 

“There is a saying, ‘in every cloud there is a silver lining,’” said Pugh. “In other words,  good things can come out of the most stressful times. Bale’s videos are a silver lining that made us smile during these stressful times and I’m sure that, in spite of the challenges and hardships of 2020, students will always be able to look back on these videos for years to come, and smile.”

Although the coronavirus pandemic and the shelter-in-place order resulted in the loss of many milestones, Bale reminds his students and other seniors to find and look toward the positive side of things. Through his experience creating the video series, Bale was able to take away some positivity from the shelter-in-place situation. 

“I was really glad that I had this opportunity,” Bale said. “If the shelter-in-place hadn’t taken place, I wouldn’t have made the series as it wouldn’t be necessary. And also it wouldn’t have given me the opportunity to look back and feel nostalgic about all these years both as a teacher with seniors and a Lynbrook student. So there is a silver lining there.”