"Switching to Camera 1," said Chris Bloomfield into his headset in the control room at Carson High School, where the school's video production students were doing the first live broadcast of morning announcements.
Welcome to the Carson High Morning News, produced entirely by students.
Bloomfield, the producer, gives instructions to the camera operators and stage director, making sure the timing and equipment run smoothly during broadcast. In the studio, Matt Myer, the stage director, uses hand signals to communicate Bloomfield's instructions to the anchors.
The students will hold those positions for two weeks, broadcasting every other day, then rotate to a new position until everyone in the class has experienced every position, including operating cameras, sound and lighting equipment.
The television broadcast - complete with two "news anchors" on Channel 3, the in-school television network - replaces the old-fashioned way of announcing upcoming meetings and events over the public-address system.
Krista Catero and Georgia Wright anchored the news on Monday, the first live broadcast.
"It was fun," said Wright.
"I kind of messed up, but it didn't really matter," said Catero. "You can't see everybody, so you don't know they're watching."
Wright and Catero took turns reading announcements off teleprompters, then the camera focused on Danielle Costella, who led the school in the Pledge of Allegiance. Costella stood in front of a blue wall in the studio, but on TV she appeared in front of a billowing American flag.
The first show was basic, concentrating on regular announcements, but video production teacher Brian Reedy said that students will eventually spend about three minutes on the announcements, making room for entertainment and sporting reports.
They will introduce clubs and cover band and theater events. Reedy said they will be "bringing all of the possibilities and happenings of the school, not just the ones that get most of the attention." The show will include features once a week spotlighting outstanding employees - not just teachers, but custodians, secretaries and other faculty.
When Principal Glen Adair recruited Reedy from Montana for an interview, Adair asked him to find someone in the hall he didn't know and ask them what was wrong with Carson High. Reedy found a student who said that the biggest problem was communication. The student had recently found out about an interesting club which had been active for years but couldn't join because he was a senior and it was too late.
From that seed grew the idea for a television program by students for students about students.
Anchors rotate every four weeks throughout the year. Reedy said he had originally planned to select only eight, but so many talented students auditioned, he eventually selected 18.
"We made the auditions really intimidating," he said.
Shelby Sheehan and Bill Frankmore, morning news anchors for KTVN Channel 4, spent hours at the school auditioning students and reviewing tapes to find the natural talent.
"The three of us sat literally a foot and a half away from the news desk," Reedy said. The anchors read announcements they had never seen before off the teleprompter with the lights and cameras on. "We wanted to see who could handle themselves under pressure," Reedy said.
Anchors attend morning, lunchtime and afternoon training depending on their schedules. The announcements are broadcast during the last 10 minutes of first period, so the anchors can get out of class. When they can't make it, a pool of backups is available.
Setting up Channel 3 for broadcast included filtering out the HBO signal and putting in a new signal so that the channel was open for the school. AT&T Cable donated the services.
"We would not have what we have today if it weren't for AT&T," said Reedy. The same goes for Channel 4, with whom Reedy did an externship.
"What really makes all of this possible is the support of Mr. Adair and the rest of the faculty," Reedy said.
The equipment that the students use for the broadcasting was purchased with money from the Karl Perkins Vocational Grant, which Reedy's class received last year. On Sept. 20, the class received a donation of $20,000 from Charles Ruppman, of Peoria, Ill., who saw the programs at the school and wanted to contribute to improve them.
With the donation from Ruppman, Reedy bought new equipment including better cameras and faster processors, which should arrive any day.
Reedy was nervous about the first broadcast, and there are technical kinks to be worked out, but said the students were "absolutely fantastic."