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TV show turns kids into broadcasters

(ran EO edition)

Brooker Creek Elementary School has formed a closed-circuit, in-house broadcasting company where children not only watch the show from their desks, they run it.

This is not Sesame Street. This is more like Good Morning America _ Brooker Creek Elementary style.

"It's the big thing now," said Lisa Fagan-Brown, the learning specialist and news director at the school.

The students grab their books and hurry from their buses and parents' cars to start each day with a 9:30 a.m. news show that helps get them ready for the week.

The show offers the latest scoops from the Brooker Creek Broadcasting Company, also known as the BCBC, on news, weather and sports.

But here's one thing you'll never see on Good Morning America: the hosts singing the entire show.

"One week I walked in and they were singing the theme from Titanic," Fagan-Brown said. "I told them, why not sing the whole show? One student looked at the other and said, "If you do it, I'll do it,' so they did. It was cute."

That kind of thinking outside the lines makes Fagan-Brown perfect for the job of getting the new BCBC off the ground. She works to keep it fresh and to get her kindergarten through fifth-grade charges in the right frame of mind to overcome their initial camera shyness.

"We do it like a real news broadcast. The guys who do this take this seriously," Fagan-Brown said.

Other than the hosts breaking into song occasionally, the broadcast is just like real life. There are special guests, roving reporters and even a taped segment of the Pledge of Allegiance recited by a different class each day. Even the "television station," located in a room off of the media center, is authentic-looking _ except for the brightly colored, kid-sized chairs.

The equipment that the technical crew must master is intimidating. There is an Edit Suite, a Digital Video Mixer and a Video Titlemaker 2000, which puts words on the TV screen. There is also a professional-looking weather computer.

But the most intimidating piece of equipment _ the one that can make a news anchor sweat _ is the camera.

Fagan-Brown used grant money to buy the equipment, which cost about $2,000.

The two-person anchor desk has a blue paper backdrop behind it, a sports desk and a weather center with a hand-drawn map of Florida. That is Miles Doran's territory. Miles, a fourth-grader, is new to the school, having moved to the area from Puerto Rico.

"He lives for weather," said Fagan-Brown.

Miles' interest in weather stems from a traumatic experience. When he was just a toddler, he and his family rode out Hurricane Hugo, which tore through Charleston, S.C., in 1989. He vaguely remembers the storm and its ferocious wind and rain that flattened whole forests.

But instead of making Miles fearful of storms, the memories of the event prompted an obsession with reporting on and warning people about all things terrible _ especially tornadoes _ that can descend from the sky.

Fagan-Brown said Miles is flawless and has become a celebrity at the school.

"He researches his own weather," she said. "The kids stop Miles in the hall to ask how the weather is."

Does Fagan-Brown think she has a future meteorologist on her student staff?

"Definitely," she said.

With a little help from Fagan-Brown, three teams of kindergarten through fifth-grade students, known throughout the school as the Bobcat team, the Black team and the Gold team _ named for the school's ferocious fictional mascot and official colors _ make up the broadcast crew.

These students are working at the TV station: Michael Samanski, Karsten Farrel, and C.J. Quiri on the sports desk; Joshua Sartwell and Miles Doran, weather; Tyler Ausdemore, Paul Acevedo and Elliot Simpson, videographers; Jeremy Root, Tina Mixon and David Boyer, stage managers; Kaylee Neilson, Nicole Pepe and Samantha Liebowitz, stage managers; Kayla Kemp, Alex Vaugn and Jason Novak on Camera C; Brelin Hoffman, Erin Murray and Brent Herold, on Camera D; Cassie Walker, Rachel Resovsky and Roseanne Strobel, script writers; Jimmy Sturm, Daniele Kogge and Mike Rooney, technical audio/visual workers, and Ryan O'Connor, William Fulmer and Tremayne Detreville, audio/visual assistant 1.

Also on the team are Ashley Lawrence, Jonathan Tran, Angela Higdon, Alex Sandkulh, Meredith Moukawshe, Matt Davis, Courney Canavan, Amanda Arnold, Jorge Andino, Jessica Nissen, Aaron Zepf, Melissa Kelly, Olivia Stacey, Peggy Sue Jamieson and Sammy Korab.

The teams have one week on, two weeks off.

"They don't get burned out," Fagan-Brown said.

There are some gaffes, some giggling and the segues could be smoother, but the production staff is surprisingly competent, even though most have lived on this Earth less time than Katie Couric has been on the air. School personnel and parents who have tuned in are suitably impressed.

"They are so professional," Fagan-Brown said. "They do a great job."

Golf tournament to raise

money for cheerleaders

The East Lake High School cheerleading boosters will host a golf tournament to raise money to send cheerleaders to this summer's National Cheerleading Association camp and national competition next year.

The squad would like to repeat this year's success: a first-place standing in District 6A and District Grand Champions.

The golf competition will take place at 1 p.m. May 17 at Lansbrook Golf Course. The format will be a four-person scramble. Cash awards and trophies will be handed out to first-, second- and third-place teams. There will also be contests to determine the longest drive and for getting the ball closest to the pin.

The tournament is limited to 144 players. Registration begins at 11 a.m. followed two hours later by a shotgun start.

After the last ball is sunk, players and their families can enjoy a buffet dinner and awards presentation.

To get more information or to sponsor a hole, call tournament chairman Mike Bousher at 784-5777.

Brooker Creek Elementary School students conclude their morning broadcast last week. The students are, from left, fifth-grade cameraman Brent Herold, fourth-grade anchor Sammy Korab, third-grade anchor Olivia Stacey, fifth-grade special announcement guest Doug Lattanzio, fifth-grade sports anchor C.J. Quiri, and Peggy Sue Jamieson. The elementary school has formed a closed-circuit broadcasting company manned by kindergarten through fifth-grade pupils. The children do a five-minute newscast at 9:30 a.m. each day. There are student newscasters, weather forecasters and sportscasters. Behind the scenes are computer operators and audio-visual workers. "We do it like a real news broadcast," said Lisa Fagan-Brown, news director and learning specialist at the school.