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Local schools produce television personalities

Most TV anchors are at least old enough to vote, but at local schools, pint-sized students are stepping into a Dan Rather-type role.

Blue Grass Elementary School and Farragut Middle School, as well as other local schools, have TV stations with young media personalities.

“The Media Masters” at Blue Grass Elementary School is a media team that keeps the school body informed of the latest news. Put together by librarian Kerstin Sisco, the team consists of two camera operators, a sound technician, a switchbox operator and two broadcasters. Students learn to switch between the three cameras and one VCR.

The students are on TV for about 15 minutes each morning. “We have a set script,” Sisco said. “’Good morning, this is so-and-so and so-and-so bringing you the morning announcements…’”

The school’s TV station, WBLU, Channel 4, Knoxville, “is just a fabulous communication tool,” Sisco said. “It’s amazing what kids learn from T-V. They’re the video generation … They notice every little thing, too. It’s amazing.

“Knox County provided every school with the technology to have closed circuit T-V. I just dug out some old video cameras I found.”

Sisco said she received closed circuit training at the KCS Tech Center, where 50 teachers, librarians and principals are trained three to four times a year.

Sisco rotates fifth-grade students selected by teachers and librarians through the Media Masters program every six weeks, so lots of children get an opportunity to appear on TV.

In addition to making announcements, students learn a word of the day, show lost and found items, read a short Character Counts paragraph, and run video clips produced by other teachers and classes.

Sisco said she has filmed a video clip to teach students the continents. “I would venture to say that every kid in our school knows all the continents because of a video clip of a rug in the library.”

The music teacher films the pledge, which every class in the school takes a turn with, and at a certain time the media team rolls the videotape.

Farragut Middle School’s TV program has been in operation for a little more than a year, said FMS teacher Karen Rehder, who along with teacher John McElroy meet after school with the eighth-grade anchors and technicians to record the next day’s announcements and news.

“We have groomed a set of ten,” McElroy said. These ten students auditioned for the opportunity to be part of the news teams and serve as anchors, camera technicians and reporters.

The teachers enlisted the aid of WBIR-TV personality Ben Senger, who came to the school three times to coach the students.

“He did a workshop on anchoring to help anchors perfect posture, personal developing their skills,” Rehder said. He also did a workshop on reporting, she added. After a January workshop led by Senger, the group began recording video clips.

“We’re trying to move from simple announcements like ‘Pep Club has meeting’ to stories,” Rehder said. Students are learning to interview, select text, and put text with video images, Rehder said.

She planned to run the first video clip last week. The FMS news team created a two- to three-minute clip giving advice on how to survive a family roadtrip, and planned to air it just before Easter break.

The students visited WBIR and recorded a video sitting at their anchor table, said McElroy.

“The kids had a chance to sit behind the desk and practice with the teleprompters,” Rehder said.

Eighth-grader Greg Grieco is one of this year’s four anchors.

“I began as sports announcer,” he said. “Then we just alternated who anchors every day.”

Grieco said he has videotaped as he reads announcements off the monitors in front of him. “We have a recorded beginning which has the pledge on it and introduces all the anchors,” he said.

The other anchors are Hillary Dziminski, Liz Falstreau and Kelly Tsaltas. The camera technicians are Patti Donovan, Shawnna Elmore, Bryant Davis, Harry Gertsen and Chelsea Floyd. Lauren West is the reporter.


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