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In-house TV station saves ALES valuable time

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Students help with daily announcements in news format

By Ron Benningfield

Each school day at 7:45 a.m., a LaRue County television station, WABE-TV, goes on the air.

Before you start reaching for the remote Abraham Lincoln Elementary (hence the call letters) and its signal reaches every classroom at ALES, but not outside the building.

 “When we were at the smaller schools (Buffalo and Magnolia elementaries, which consolidated into ALES), we had morning meeting in the gym, but with a larger school, it takes too long to clear the gym and valuable instruction time is lost. The TV program accomplishes the same goal,” Kathy Ross, ALES’s school administrative manager, explained.

With a painted backdrop and news desk to make the newsroom look authentic, students broadcast news and weather to all the Smartboards in the building from a room behind the library.

News team members rotate from week to week by assigned classes. They make announcements that are on the script which Ross writes, and help their Principal Amber Thurman with student celebrations, lunch menus and other matters of day-to-day school business.

“We are currently featuring the students (one per day) who won at the last elementary speech tournament,” Ross said.

The broadcast allows the principal to speak with and to be seen and heard by every child in the school, and also lets all the children immediately know of special accomplishments of fellow students.

With only 15 minutes allowed from start to finish, the show must maintain a tight schedule starting with a hearty, “Good Morning!” by Thurman and the pledge to the flag.

“A pair of students leads the pledge and handling of the flag,” Ross said.

After a pause for silent meditation, the “anchors” announce birthdays, classes showing great lunchroom behavior, student achievements in academics, and sometimes extracurricular accomplishments as well.

Ross said WABE is an excellent medium for promoting school events, such as they did last week with librarian Cynthia Patterson and some of the students publicizing the upcoming book fair at the school.

“We have had a few guests such as county library personnel promoting an event, but most people don’t want to come at 7:45 a.m., plus we are talking about time constraints, too,” commented Ross.

Changes are in the works at the station with the addition of a technology club.

 “We are in the process of developing a revision to our school technology policy because it has been mandated that each school have its own student technology club,” said Ross. “We are going to start small and work up with what we currently have.”

Teachers Rebecca Gaddie and Andrea Smith will co-sponsor the club with a hopeful starting date sometime in December.  Carla Graham, the technology resource technician, currently runs the camera, but Ross said that students soon will assume more off-camera responsibilities.

“Instead of our meteorologist simply taking the weather report off the computer, an additional weather station means we’ll have readings from right here at school,” Ross mentioned. “Plans are underway to have Kevin Harned with WAVE-TV in Louisville on the newscast.”

November’s newscast schedule includes an interview with Johann Sebastian Bach.  Actually, a student teacher, Phillip Braun, studying under veteran music teacher Penny Akers, will assume that role and take questions from students. 

“We intend to feature a different composer each month,” Ross said.