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Giving Networks A Run For Their Money

STOWE PA – Move over, Charlie Gibson. Step aside, Katie Couric. The ABC World News and CBS Evening News anchors, respectively, better make way for newer, younger talent.

Much younger.


A group of fifth-grade newshounds are showing they’re ready to compete with prime time players in televising the day’s events to any audience, be it their fellow students at West Pottsgrove Elementary School or an even more cynical crowd, like the Pottsgrove School District Board of School Directors.

In opening its regular monthly meeting Tuesday night (Jan. 13, 2009), the school board was treated to a pre-recorded edition of the West Pottsgrove Elementary News, a daily production created and broadcast by students at the school, 25 Grosstown Rd.

  • Their 3m:14s video, above, has been uploaded to YouTube by ‘The Post’ for the world (including competitors Gibson and Couric) to view. Press the play button.

Amateur anchors Ethan McRae and Denisha Footman – knowing full well who would be watching – reported the time, the weather, the lunch menu, a run-down of upcoming events, and a short feature on Black History Month. They also dead-panned with a professional air in joking about the school board meeting running late (it was, by 10 minutes), and drew laughs from board members, district staff, and parents in attendance.

Their fun aside, the broadcast is serious business and daily routine for West Pottsgrove students. Each school day at 9:10 a.m. they see a program feed from the WPEN studio, a separate room inside the school building outfitted with small video cameras and a makeshift big-city backdrop. The in-house show, transmitted directly to TV monitors in  classrooms, replaces what once were loudspeaker announcements read by an administrator like the principal.

It’s also a way for the school’s gifted students to learn writing, editing, public presentation, and camera skills. Teacher Elaine Armstrong explained that kids arrive at 8:45 a.m. to create scripts, rehearse, and then produce the broadcast with a flurry of activity that begins before they ever open a book. What school directors saw, Armstrong said, “was just like what we do every morning.”

District Superintendent Dr. Bradley Landis (who, the news crew dutifully reported, will celebrate his birthday on Jan. 20), presented each of the night’s participants with a certificate of appreciation.

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