Middle school goes high tech

Tom Beal and Chris Harrell, both fifth-graders at Silver Stage Middle School, read over the script and fidget a bit as the final seconds count down before going on air.

"I'm kind of embarrassed because we're going to talk to the whole school," Beal said. "I've never been on TV before."

Students at Silver Stage Middle School broadcast the announcements via television every morning, complete with the Pledge of Allegiance and a weather forecast to all the classrooms in the school.

The anchors and weather forecasters rotate daily and are chosen by their homeroom teachers. Technology and math teacher Patrick Peters organizes and oversees the production.

"Instead of having a perfect broadcast, he involves all the kids," said Principal Melinda Johnson. "It would go a lot faster if the same kids did it every day, but it wouldn't be such a learning experience."

The eighth-graders put on the production Mondays, the seventh-graders on Tuesdays, the sixth-graders on Wednesdays, fifth-graders on Thursdays and on Fridays, a mixture of students and teachers are in charge.

Peters and a group of volunteer students work during their free time to organize the program and make commercials to be aired between announcements.

Some, such as the clip from "Wayne's World" to advertise the talent show, are merely to advertise. Others have a message.

One commercial features a clip from the movie "Uncle Buck" showing a girl being driven to school by her uncle in an old beat up car and she is humiliated in front of the whole school.

At the end of the clip, the announcer said, "Be nice to the bus drivers."

Thomas Kerins, eighth-grader, acts as producer of the show.

"I stay in at lunch, come in early and stay after school," Kerins said. "It's fun and a learn something while I'm doing it. I've always wanted to do something like this and it's a really good way to learn it."

Eighth-grader Anthony Walker is in charge of setting up the weather forecast, which is done in front of a green screen.

"I was interested in technology and whatnot and they said they were looking for someone," he said. "I like it a lot because I've been studying the weather since I was in the sixth grade."

Jerry Simpson, an eighth-grader, said he likes to help out with the production and has high hopes for the program.

"It's just something I can give back to the school," he said. "We're going to try to build this up by interviewing teachers and stuff."

Johnston said the broadcast teaches more than technological skills.

They learn language arts, science, reading and technology," she said. She said if a student gets in front of the camera and struggles with reading, that student will have a reason to want to acquire better reading skills.

Johnston said the school has been dedicated to being technologically up to date since its construction six years ago.

"We started out with a computer in every classroom," she said. "A lot of schools have a computer lab but we wanted one in each room."

Peters said they have been collecting television sets over the last three years and now have one for each classroom. AT&T; donated the cable.

Johnston said Peters' vision is the kind every middle school teacher should have.

"He's true middle school," she said. "You never know what Mr. Peters is going to pull off."


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