Basketballs, jihad and grizzlies! History teacher makes YouTube channel to post his famous stories

Allison Zhang
History teacher Bruce Baird speaks to senior Quin LaComb before filming for his first YouTube video begins.

History teacher Bruce Baird’s classroom was filled with dozens of students, and one of his ceiling tiles was a bit crooked.

That was on May 5, the first day he, juniors Nina Dym, Atsuo Chiu and Esme Bruce-Romo and senior Kevin Huang started filming for his new YouTube channel.

Baird was telling a story about how he dunked basketballs when he was young, and, naturally, he had to prove he could still do it – hence the crooked ceiling tile.

It all started back in January when Baird held a contest in his U.S. History class to come up with ideas he could use for a youth outreach project that he was working on for the Northern California 9/11 Truth Alliance.

Dym suggested creating a YouTube channel. The idea sparked Baird’s interest, and he started thinking about how to go about making videos.

“I thought, ‘Why not just make videos of the stories that I have been telling for years?’” he said.

Baird initially planned on having only Huang film him, but when he told his class, Chiu and Dym also volunteered to help.

Allison Zhang
History teacher Bruce Baird demonstrates his basketball dunking technique as junior Nina Dym adjusts a tripod.

“Nina suggested doing something more elaborate than I had thought, with multiple cameras and a script,” Baird said.

So over spring break, Baird started writing monologues for three stories: “Dr. Baird Dunks A Basketball,” “Dr. Baird Declares Jihad” and “Dr. Baird Comes Face-to-Butt with a Grizzly.”

Baird said the stories became more elaborate once he wrote them down..

“I started seeing the stories as more like a Ted Talk – making them educational as well as entertaining,” he said.

Chiu helped Baird set up the YouTube channel and taught him to use PowerPoint to make slides with images to supplement his stories.

Both Chiu and Dym are editing the videos, with Dym filming as well.  

Because Baird plans to release at least one video a week, he needs a backlog of videos and the capacity to produce one a week before he starts posting, which he said should start in the fall.

So for now, he, Dym, Chiu and Huang are focusing on filming Baird’s most popular stories. And because there are too many stories to film in one month, before Baird retires, Dym plans to teach him how to film himself.

Also, because he’s not leaving the area after he retires, he may come back to Country Day in the fall to film a few more videos.

As for specific videos, Baird said he might also do some short ones of his famous impersonations of Cookie Monster, Elvis Presley and Louis Armstrong, which he often includes in his senior skits at the graduation ceremony.

Allison Zhang
Junior Nina Dym focuses a camera.

He also wants to add videos of the skits.

Baird hopes Country Day students and alumni will watch his videos.

“I know a lot of them will remember at least some of these stories and be interested in hearing them again, as well as hearing stories they’ve never heard,” he said.

“And I like the idea of building a way to maintain or reestablish contact with people who have touched my life and whose lives I have touched.”

The filming of Baird’s videos is open for all students to watch, which provides a live audience. On May 5, about two dozen showed up, including freshman Sandor Pelle, who hasn’t even taken one of Baird’s classes.

“I’ve heard from a lot of people that he’s really funny and has awesome stories, so I thought it would be fun to go,” he said.

Sophomore Abby LaComb also attended because she wanted to hear Baird’s stories.

“He has very entertaining stories, but he just doesn’t always have the chance in class to share them,” she said.

“So this was the perfect opportunity.”

“Dr. Baird Declares Jihad” was the second video Baird and his helpers filmed on May 11.

And the upcoming one, “Dr. Baird Orders Chinese Food in Poland,” will be shot on Friday, May 19, during the Elective II period.

By Allison Zhang

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