Spreading the school news

Broadcast: A new show sheds klieg lights on students, activities and programs around the county.

Education Beat

News from Carroll County schools and colleges

March 06, 2005|By Gina Davis | Gina Davis,SUN STAFF

A group of North Carroll High athletes visits Spring Garden Elementary to encourage students to look for "slam dunk" moments in everyday activities, such as shoveling a neighbor's driveway.

Meanwhile, students at Century High hold a benefit concert to raise funds to build a memorial to a former student killed in a car accident last fall. And middle-schoolers from across the county learn ways to embrace diversity.

These activities are in the spotlight as a new half-hour program, CETV Newsmakers: On the Positive Side, hits the airwaves in the school system's latest effort to spread the word about the good things students are doing.

The latest episode of Newsmakers, the show's third so far, focuses on students helping students.

"You don't think kids can do such great things," said Shanin Thornton, 17, a junior at Westminster High School and the show's host. "But kids will really get together when something happens and they need to and ... cool things happen."

As the host, Shanin introduces the show's videotaped segments and provides voiceovers.

Newsmakers is fashioned after a news broadcast with a fast-paced glimpse of student-related activities. It's a different approach to a similar show that the school system had last year, called In the Schools, which used a newsmagazine format that focused on in-depth coverage of two or three topics.

"We decided it was better to try to do 10 stories instead of two or three in detail," said Carey Gaddis, schools spokeswoman. The hope is to add segments, such as one on sports, a character education spot or a school-of-the-month highlight.

The show's producers select a different theme for each episode and then film activities involving students throughout the county. They also solicit video footage and photos from schools. Each show, which appears on Carroll Educational Television, CETV-Channel 21, airs four times daily for two weeks.

"We pick out events and activities in the schools that are noteworthy and should be recognized," said Cathy Romeo, an assistant to the station manager.

Newsmakers' first episode began airing Feb. 4. It introduced viewers to the program's purpose of highlighting positive student initiatives and included segments such as Manchester Elementary students who met with Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele during a visit to their school, as well as a photo montage from Robert Moton Elementary's character education programs.

The second show was based on partnerships. It focused on the business community's involvement with the school system, such as the oil industry's cooperative effort with students at the Career and Technology Center in Westminster.

"We've gotten more feedback than we expected," said Susan Thornton, CETV's production specialist and Shanin's mother. Most recently the station manager for public access Channel 19, she began working at CETV last fall.

Shanin, who dreams of becoming the next Barbara Walters, said she has long been interested in doing a show that focused on the good things in the community.

"There's enough out there about crime," she said.

Shanin has been pursuing her goal of doing such a show since at least sixth grade. In middle school, she was the host for a video that was used to acquaint new middle-schoolers with the school system. She also worked on a book discussion show, where she would take audience questions about a selected reading.

She was excited when she realized that Newsmakers was attracting an audience.

"People have been coming up to me with story ideas," said Shanin, who is also a cheerleader at Westminster and has performed in community theater. "It surprised me that people were watching it. It's cool to have people come to me with their ideas."

CETV, the district's educational public access channel, began broadcasting in 1993 with a public information bulletin board. The channel now includes instructional and curriculum-related videos as well as locally produced programs featuring Carroll County students and staff, said Pat Flaherty, the station's manager.

"The importance of educational television is that it ... gives you the opportunity to get your message out to the public," he said. "It's a way for us to keep a community voice out there. ... I think the public is interested in what the school system is doing."

Flaherty, a 15-year school employee, said the channel has increased its local programming threefold since late last year. CETV's local programming includes live broadcasts of Board of Education meetings and interviews with Superintendent Charles I. Ecker, board members and staff.

Newsmakers will have new shows through the rest of the school year and then show reruns for the summer. The show's producers are considering holding auditions for Shanin's successor when she graduates.

In the meantime, Flaherty said he wanted to include as many schools as possible.

"I don't want any schools to feel like we slighted them," he said.

"CETV Newsmakers: On the Positive Side" airs daily on Channel 21 at 8 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. For information about the show, visit carrollcountytv.org.

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