Amateur anchors broadcast news to classmates at Wolfe Elementary School WEAU is students' information source CARROLL COUNTY EDUCATION

November 02, 1992|By Traci A. Johnson | Traci A. Johnson,Staff Writer

An article in Monday's Carroll County edition should have identified the closed-circuit television station at Elmer A. Wolfe Elementary School as WEAW.

The Baltimore Sun regrets the errors.

Some TV news shows feature "friends you can turn to," have journalists who are "on your side," or promise to "see you through," but only one newscast tells you "all about what's happening on North Main Street in Union Bridge."

Welcome to WEAU, Elmer A. Wolfe Elementary's all-kid information network.

"All the students find out the week's events, from birthdays to class trips, to who's learning what in which grades," said June Praet, the school's media specialist and director of the news program. "The children really get the chance to look at themselves and see a different side of the television news."

The show began its run Oct. 9 in a small room across from the school library converted into a newsroom. The broadcasts are channeled into every classroom on Friday mornings through a closed-circuit television system.

Aside from a few glitches -- a video recorder malfunctioned, a bee's nest was found in the bathroom adjacent to the studio -- the show has gone smoothly.

"It's been going very well these past few weeks," said Ms. Praet. "The children seem to enjoy and learn from the experience."

The fourth-graders from Wendy Hundertmark's class have presented the 10-minute show for the past four weeks and have seen first-hand the work involved in preparing for a telecast.

Another class will take over this month.

"It's work, but it's fun work," said Stacy Copenhaver, the first anchor for last Friday's telecast. "Some of it's tough to read, but most of it is not hard at all."

Concentrating was hard in the beginning.

During the first practice, Lara Green stared at the table top and Leslie Long shuffled papers while their co-anchor, Chris Palsgrove, watched his image on the television screen, raised his fingers to form a victory sign, and squealed, "Smile, you're on 'Candid Camera!' "

L Michelle White forgot the words to the Pledge of Allegiance.

Before last week's show, Stacy, April Tucker and David Fritz giggled through clasped hands as Bobby Shifflett exaggerated the enunciation of the words to the pledge.

But the viewing audience never saw any of those antics.

Once the cameras began to roll, these pint-sized professionals delivered the news as earnestly as their adult counterparts.

"I think in some ways the show has helped the children to mature," Ms. Praet said. "They understand that they may act a little silly at practice, but on the air, we won't see it."

While all the youngsters said the work was fun, some had reservations before air time.

"Being in front of the camera is kind of embarrassing," said Chris, 9. "I mean the whole school is out here watching you."

David, 8, agreed.

"Well, we are on television, even if it's just at school," he said. "I am little bit nervous, but all you have to do is try to stay calm and wait for your turn."

Keith Taylor, the media specialist who started the news program at Elmer A. Wolfe, said the program gives children a sense of pride.

"They get to see themselves on television and others can hear their names announced, like when we celebrate birthdays," said Mr. Taylor, who now works at Piney Ridge Elementary and oversees its news show.

"It's also a way to make the morning announcements more visual and keep the children's attention," he said.

The format of the program varies among schools, he said. Usually the on-air spots go to the older students, such as fourth- or fifth-graders, as a "perk" for being in the school the longest.

Like many newer schools, Piney Ridge has a studio built especially for this type of project, with track lighting, a curtain behind a news desk and modern camera equipment.

"We currently tape our show on Thursday so we can splice any footage into our broadcasts that go along with news stories," said Mr. Taylor. "Our sponsor is the school store, and we have a commercial in between some of the stories to say what is on sale for the next week."

Manchester Elementary School plans to begin broadcasting in early 1993 -- a 20-minute program put on by the fifth-grade students., said Peggy Brengle, the school's media specialist.

"For the on-air people, it will bolster self-esteem," she said. "For the school, it will make us proud of something we produced ourselves."

The children said they find the work interesting and like the idea of dealing with what's going on in the school, but not everyone wants to do it full-time.

Lara wants to be a baby sitter, a teacher or a farmer.

Bobby must choose between being a baseball player and a professional hunter.

Leslie wants to be a doctor. Chris and Michelle are undecided.

Only April, David and Stacy said they'd like to give television journalism a try.

"You can make a lot of money if you are on the news," said April, thinking about her options for a moment. "Maybe I'll be a news person. If I have money, it will settle me."

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