2018-04-29 / Insight

Chatfield students produce weekly TV news program

BY NICHOLAS PUGLIESE
810-452-2601 • npugliese @mihomepaper.com


Seventh-grade student Kennedy Thompson was on-hand Tuesday afternoon to catalogue for the controlled burn conducted at Prairies and Ponds adjacent to Chatfield School for Chatfield Broadcasting System. 
Photos by Nicholas Pugliese Seventh-grade student Kennedy Thompson was on-hand Tuesday afternoon to catalogue for the controlled burn conducted at Prairies and Ponds adjacent to Chatfield School for Chatfield Broadcasting System. Photos by Nicholas Pugliese LAPEER — Seventhgrade students at Chatfield School in Lapeer — Hannah Smith and Charlotte Bontrager — camera in hand, headed outside into the gloomy afternoon on Wednesday, off to the school’s Willows Ecology Education Center.

The pair were setting out to film a brief demonstration on how to tap a tree for the purposes of harvesting maple syrup. Bontrager and Smith wrote a script on a whiteboard, then wheeled it outside to a nearby tree. Bontrager, armed with a drill, read from the script as Smith recorded. A few minutes later, they were done. A tree was freshly tapped, and a news segment was recorded.

The two students are part of an elective course for sixth-eighth graders that produces a news program called the Chatfield Broadcasting System. According to teacher Kristi Huestis, the students work in teams to produce newsworthy material for the school news that airs Tuesday through Friday. “Students are challenged to collaborate with their peers to create content that is both age appropriate and interesting,” she said.


Seventh-grader students Charlotte Bontrager and Hannah Smith wrote out their script on a whiteboard that was used like a teleprompter during the recording of their news segment. Seventh-grader students Charlotte Bontrager and Hannah Smith wrote out their script on a whiteboard that was used like a teleprompter during the recording of their news segment. Smith summed up her experience in the course. “Basically, it’s a class where we have different segments we pick every week,” she said. “We do it for the whole school every morning.” According to Smith, different groups of students from the class tackle different projects that will be shown on different days of the week. “Sometimes the segments are required, events at Chatfield, birthdays, weather,” she said.


Amya Weeden and Savannah Djokic, sixth-graders, were editing for Friday’s episode of the Chatfield Broadcasting System on Wednesday afternoon. 
Photo by Nicholas Pugliese Amya Weeden and Savannah Djokic, sixth-graders, were editing for Friday’s episode of the Chatfield Broadcasting System on Wednesday afternoon. Photo by Nicholas Pugliese Among other segments the students have tackled, said Bontrager, have been “This or That?”, which compares two pictures of objects, or “Who Am I?”, which gives clues about the identity of a celebrity or famous thing and asks fellow students to guess.

Teams of students also head out into Chatfield to get a firsthand look at what the rest of their schoolmates are up to. “We also do a segment called ‘In the Classroom’ where we ask people what they’re working on and look at students’ work,” said Bontrager.

“Students gain knowledge and experience in meeting deadlines, journalism, advanced video editing, and photography using a variety of technology hardware and software,” said Huestis. Episodes are generally two to seven minutes long. Smith said they’ve typically only got a few days, and only roughly an hour each day, to put an episode together, from planning to filmming to editing and publishing, but they’re able to lean on each other and their individual experience to get the job done. “Each kid does every job,” she said. “My favorite part is the editing process, where you can look back and see what you did. Sometimes it’s pretty funny.”

According to Smith, she sees her classmates expressing an interest in the daily broadcast, and she works to retain their attention by providing riveting content. “They’re engaged in it if it’s interesting,” she said. “It really depends on grade level.”

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