Senior project includes documentary in honor of The Trumpet’s 100th year anniversary


Provided by Danielle Mehlman-Brightwell

Footage from The Trumpet documentary. Branson Sawinski, creative director (top row), Chana Diehl-Baker, 2000 graduate and Ronald Reynolds, 1994 graduate (second row), Jalyn Bolyard, 2018 graduate; Gabrielle Blanchard, 2020 graduate; and Yijing Shen, 2019 graduate (third row); Maureen Golick, 2005 graduate and Dr. David Hanna, 1993 graduate.

West Liberty University’s newspaper, The Trumpet, recently celebrated its 100th year of publication. In honor of this milestone, Branson Sawinski is creating a documentary for his senior project. Sawinski has worked with several professors, students, and Trumpet alum in order to bring this project to life.

Sawinski is the creative director for the documentary, so he oversees all footage that will eventually be edited into a final project. Sawinski says, “I have worked closely with professor Mehlman-Brightwell, my senior project Professor Moonjung Kang, the documentary editor Heather Hale, and my mentor Jared Thompson to keep everyone up to date and to make sure any and all info is clear while getting feedback along the way.” He went on to say, “I have created the synopsis, storyboard and overall layout to begin the process in an organized manner and have utilized Google Drive.”

Sawinski shared that he has conducted several interviews with current and previous members of The Trumpet for the documentary, some of which have taken place during a class taught by Professor Mehlman-Brightwell. He also says, “I have captured additional footage for B-Roll and the introduction of the documentary. The editor and I have gone back and forth in editing the documentary as well.” Sawinski shared that his ultimate goal for the documentary is to “create a quality documentary to such a degree as to satisfy not only the client, but my professors as well.”

Professor Mehlman-Brightwell says, “Students in my COM 322 class assisted Branson Sawinski with the preproduction of the documentary by interviewing former Trumpet staff alumni: Gabrielle Blanchard (2020 graduate), Jalyn Bolyard (2018 graduate), Maureen Golick (2005 graduate), and Chana Diehl-Baker (2000 graduate).” Sawinski also interviewed Ronald Reynolds (1994 graduate), Yijing Shen (2019 graduate), and Dr. David Hanna (1993 graduate).

Because of this senior project being so time-consuming and holding such an importance to the WLU community, Sawinski has found the project to be stressful at times, yet a great learning experience. He says, “The experience I gain from this is very valuable. Not only does it show my knowledge in video production but is a good demonstration of my organizational and leadership skills all while improving upon those.”

Sawinski went on to share what he discovered about The Trumpet while working on this project. “I learned quite a bit about the Trumpet itself and was surprised to know its history went back as far as it does. Like this documentary, the Trumpet is also a place to learn and improve upon all sorts of valuable skills which will help in a future career.”

The documentary is available to watch on TopperStation, visit