MRH Elementary Students Create Daily Live Broadcast
There have been a handful of changes this year that improve each day at MRH Elementary, but none quite so daring as the addition of the student-run daily television broadcast known as MRHE 97 News. Ninety-seven is the in-house, closed-circuit channel on which the program is aired.
When Dan Lyons and Chris Baker were initially asked if they’d be interested in facilitating a student-run broadcast at the elementary level, they were intrigued. To get ideas on how to proceed, the two long-time MRH Elementary educators visited other schools in the area that were broadcasting. “Fortunately, when our building was built, all the wiring was pretty much in place for what we wanted to do,” remarked Mr. Lyons, MRHE E4 teacher. “Most of the equipment that we needed was here. And we inherited the video board from the high school.” What began last April as a once-a-week, pre-recorded transmission on Fridays, has grown into a Monday through Thursday, live news and information show.
Sixth grade students meet daily during block to research, create scripts and prepare videos for reports on important and trending topics. They review the previous day’s show and discuss how it can improve. “Birthdays, lunch menus, book-talks, this week in history; basically if anyone has an idea, we take it on,” says Lyons. For instance, during Black History Month, guest student speakers of all grade levels were invited to share facts regarding African American history. Occasionally the work goes beyond the time available during school with students taking laptops home to continue their research. Everyone is invested in improving the quality of the final product.
“There is always a potential for technical difficulties with the number of technologies and software we are using,” adds Chris Baker. Baker is the technology specialist for both MRH Elementary and the Early Childhood Center. To superimpose the anchors into any background, they use a blue screen. If talent mistakenly shows up wearing blue, they need to borrow a different shirt or risk showing up on camera as a floating head. “The last minute scramble to fix these issues keeps my job exciting!” The anchors are encouraged to sit up, smile and enunciate. During one morning broadcast, a student anchor inadvertently took a big bite out of his breakfast pizza just as they went live. “He mumbled through his lines while the rest of the crew kept recording and trying not to laugh out loud,” recalls Baker. It’s a constant learning experience. “It took some practice getting used to reading from a teleprompter,” says Lyons. “…not reading too fast or slow, or with their heads going back and forth. One time someone forgot to download the movie we needed for that morning’s broadcast. It was like a scene from Broadcast News with the guy running through the halls trying to meet the deadline. In the end, I’m always surprised by how competent our MRH students are with technology. And it’s great how the kids support each other and work through any issues that arise.”
The goal is to involve as many students as possible. Sixth graders rotate into the broadcast team on a quarterly basis. Some members of the last quarter’s group temporarily work into the next quarter to facilitate the training of the new crew. This spring, a small group of 5th grade students will transition in and begin learning what is involved in putting together a live broadcast.
What’s next for Channel 97? Perhaps streaming live for better video and audio quality or posting on the MRH Elementary website so that parents can check in on the day’s news and have a chance to watch the great work their students are doing.
Click here to view more photos of MRHE 97 News Ninety-seven.
For more information, contact MRH School District at (314) 644-4400.