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Published: Wednesday, 1/8/2003

Skilled 4th-graders nix jitters in broadcasts

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Molly Hilfinger, left, and Ashlee French, both 9, practice the piece they will read as anchors for the TV show. Molly Hilfinger, left, and Ashlee French, both 9, practice the piece they will read as anchors for the TV show.
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“Quiet! Quiet on the set!”

Within a few seconds, the WHBC studio is as silent as snow.

Satisfied that everything is in order, the director nods, triggering a flurry of activity.

Focusing the camera, Veronica Zimmerman signals towards the anchor booth. On cue, Ashlee French and Molly Hilfinger welcome the viewers and, reading from a script held high by Hayley Hutchinson, the anchors introduce the program's topic: literature.

A flub prompts a comment from one of the bosses on the set.

“Take a deep breath and let it out real slow,” says Janet Johnston, library aide and technology facilitator for Whitehouse Primary School, homebase for Whitehouse Broadcasting.

By the time the camera is ready for the next takes, the butterflies in the fourth-graders' bellies have flown away, and the anchors, looking very cool and professional, finish the show with finesse.

“Cut!” comes the call from director Josh Triggs as the students wrap up the taping of another WHBC news segment.

The television production company, run by computer-savvy youngsters, broadcasts weekly programs on TV sets in the classrooms.

Members of the school's computer club take turns with field reporting, script writing, filming, editing, and directing.

Abigail Jacoby, from left, Hayley Hutchinson, Veronica Zimmerman, and Danielle Smith, all 9, check the back of the camera for audio for their TV show. Abigail Jacoby, from left, Hayley Hutchinson, Veronica Zimmerman, and Danielle Smith, all 9, check the back of the camera for audio for their TV show.
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For one broadcast, Josh served as a field reporter and Danielle Smith was the camera operator.

They interviewed and filmed third-grade students who were conducting pumpkin experi-ments for a science class.

During a recent school board meeting at the Whitehouse school, one of WHBC's news programs was aired.

The segment included interviews with board members and Superintendent Randy Hardy. Responding to a reporter's question, the superintendent quipped that his most important duty is to call off school for a snow day.

Teachers often suggest story ideas, the students said.

“Teachers give us things, and they tell us what they want,” Josh said, and “we tape it and stuff,” Danielle added.

The 17-member production staff spends Monday afternoons after school working on the programs in the media center, and students often surrender recess time to make sure they meet deadlines.

This month, Mrs. Johnston plans to pump some new blood into the production company.

Third-grade students from another computer club at the school will link up with the seasoned fourth-grade students.

“They will be training and working with the third-graders,” said Mrs. Johnston, who set up the broadcasting company after attending a workshop during the Ohio SchoolNet state technology conference in February in Columbus. In February, the WHBC production company will be featured during the SchoolNet conference.



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