Hannah Grace peered into the broadcast camera focused on her second grade classmates as they reported the news for Kennesaw Elementary School. On that day, she was standing in as a videographer for Cobb edTV, but on other days Hannah Grace sits behind the anchor desk. That’s where she loves to be.
The second grader dreams of being a television news anchor when she grows up. It’s a dream that started after Hannah Grace helped launch her school’s first news station—KNN News.
“I like to be the anchor because I like to be on camera,” Hannah Grace confessed. “[My teacher] says it is the perfect job for me because I talk a lot.”
If she ascends one day to the anchor chair for a national news network, Hannah Grace will be able to look back to her roots as a member of Dr. Valerie King’s team of advanced learning students. The group of students and their teacher walked into a room filled with broadcast equipment last fall. They had to learn how to operate all the new equipment donated by Cobb EMC in addition to designing the KNN News show format.
“I brought the kids in, and day-by-day we started to learn together and practice,” Dr. King explained. “We have learned that failing is learning. We celebrate those failures because they make us better.”
Although Dr. King is tech savvy, learning video production introduced some challenges for the advanced learning teacher, especially when it came to operating the green screen behind the anchors. Luckily, one of her seven-year-old students offered to help.
“I was a little intimidated, and it was Stone who said, ‘I will come in one morning and sit with you. Let’s learn it together.’ We sat with the manual open and literally went step by step. That’s how green screen happened for us.”
Stone, who acknowledged that the green screen was the hardest part to learn, is now a green screen guru. He coaches his broadcast teammates on how to operate the technology that once intimidated even his teacher.
Although Stone doesn’t plan on pursuing a job in video production, he has recognized how the skills that he has learned on the news team will prepare him for the future. Stone said his experience operating the buttons on the production equipment will help him when he climbs inside the cockpit of a plane to fulfill his dream of being a pilot.
Hannah Grace isn’t only using her experience in the newsroom to sharpen her skills for her future career as a TV reporter; she practices at home with the help of her family.
“We have two cameras. So, my dad is going to [operate a] camera. My mom is going to [operate a] camera, and my sister just learned to write so she is writing the script,” explained the budding news anchor. “I’m going to put [the videos] on my iPad to see how I have been improving.”
Besides being an anchor, one of Hannah Grace’s favorite news station jobs is running PowerPoint, a skill not many seven-year-olds can boast about.
From microphones, PowerPoint, and broadcast cameras to lighting and green screen, there’s a lot the KNN News team had to learn. The students also put in extra school time, arriving early every day to prepare for the morning show.
According to their teacher, the fledgling news team has had to learn to take criticism too so they can improve. They’ve also learned the importance of punctuality and being flexible when news breaks.
“These are kids. There are bloopers. There are funny things that happen. We have to have serious learning conversations,” Dr. King explained.
Despite all the extra work, learning new skills, learning how to receive feedback, and how to correct their mistakes, the KNN News Team loves their jobs.
“I like coming to [the newsroom] because all the jobs I have done have been really fun,” added Hannah Grace. “It gives me something to look forward to every day. It is my favorite thing to do.”
Dr. King said she wants the students’ experience on the news to set them up for a great day beyond the walls of the production lab. From the students’ description, it sounds like it is doing just that.
Hannah Grace and her fellow anchor, Hope, walk the halls of Kennesaw Elementary like mini-celebrities. Other students recognize them as members of the news team and teachers praise them for doing an awesome job.
The excitement of being apart of KNN News even affects the students who visit the newsroom during the show. One girl was so inspired when she got be a guest inside the studio during a taping of the show that she decided to take action to become part of the news crew fulltime.
“I went to my mailbox that afternoon, and there was a letter from the student. It said, “Dear Dr. King, I would like to be a permanent member of your news crew. How do I do that?’ How could I say no? Now this girl is a permanent fixture of our news crew because she was an advocate for herself and wants to put in the extra work,” Dr. King said.
As the school year winds down, the now-veteran news team will turn the reigns over to the next group of fledgling anchors, producers, and engineers. Before they leave Kennesaw Elementary School, the current team of second graders will train their rising second grade replacements.
“This is much more than a news program. I think what everyone sees is a polished product. I’ve had teachers say it is joyful. That’s what I want every morning,” added Dr. King.
Go behind the scenes with KNN News in the following Cobb edTV video: http://goo.gl/QpJgXB