Students focus on TV Live: At Odenton and several other elementary schools in the county, students produce live morning shows. Odenton's has been airing for five years.

September 17, 1996|By Tanya Jones | Tanya Jones,SUN STAFF

Live television can be unpredictable.

But even if one half of the two-person anchor team doesn't have PTC a ride to school, the morning show at WOES Channel 12 must go on.

The live, five-minute broadcast is Odenton Elementary School's answer to NBC's "Today" show. It includes the Pledge of Allegiance, a weather report, skits, birthday announcements and other brief segments. Odenton is one of several elementary schools in the county, including Severn and Davidsonville, where students produce a morning show.

The nine fifth-graders, their producer/director and their technical adviser have about 10 minutes to get ready for the 9: 15 a.m. broadcast, which is piped into every classroom in the school.

The show even went live on the first day of school, when one of the designated anchors, James McGill, 10, couldn't get to school because the bus hadn't come.

Without a partner, Angela Osborne, 10, had to go solo.

"I had butterflies in my stomach," she said. But then she got some advice from a fellow student and from Marianne Wood, the school counselor who is the show's producer and director: "Don't stutter, and make sure you keep your head up."

Wood offers another piece of advice for all who come before the cameras: If you mess up, keep going. "Because if you mess up, they [the audience] have no idea what you're doing. It sounds good to them," Wood said.

Odenton has been producing a morning show since 1991, after the school was renovated and expanded. Principal Barbara San Gabino said she spent at least $15,000 of the renovation money, after paying for essentials, to have the studio on the second floor of the media center equipped with lights, cameras, monitors and computers necessary to produce shows and for classroom projects.

"I think performance is one of the most valuable lessons that children can have," San Gabino said. "This sort of gives them an introduction to that 15 minutes of fame and very often inspires them to do better."

Television production is not part of the elementary school curriculum, but many county elementary schools built or renovated after 1970 have some sort of in-school broadcasting capability, said Brian Helm, director of school library and media programs.

Odenton's studio was abuzz with activity yesterday morning before the show.

"Two minutes," came the alert from Connie Smith, the school's media specialist and the program's technical adviser.

"I can't get this thing focused, because everybody is in the way," said Margaret Williams, 10, who operates Camera 2.

Six fourth-graders rehearsing a rap promoting respect and kindness were blocking Margaret's view of the announcers.

But all is silent in the seconds before show time.

In the control room, Lauren Steinheiser, 10, and Kristine Price, 9, made sure that what the students viewed on the televisions in the classroom looked good.

Wood and Smith select a different group of nine students to produce the show about every four weeks. "You really see the kids improve," she said. "They feel good about themselves just for being chosen to do it, and other kids respect them for being on TV."

Pub Date: 9/17/96

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