Recorder News Staff
The green screen was set for the morning show.
Camera lights blinked red.
The reporters and anchors were in place, glancing at the teleprompters for their cues.
But even though the equipment was professional and there was an audience awaiting the 8:50 a.m. news, it wasn't a typical television station.
It was the morning television show at the Marie Curie Institute of Engineering and Communications in the city of Amsterdam, and the reporters and anchors were fourth and fifth graders just looking for a fun experience to learn.
"When Curie became a magnet school, the staff was trying to come up with some new things for the students to do," said Curie television station adviser and special education teacher Kristen Tiemann-Kadyszewski. "Because we are engineering and communications, they came up with the idea of having a radio station here and the TV station."
Originally, the advisers wrote the scripts and used white boards and large notepads as a teleprompter substitute for the student anchors and reporters, but a year into the program, magnet school funds became available, Tiemann-Kadyszewski said, and a parent of a Curie student, who worked at a local station, told them about a system called Tricaster Pro.
"He said it was very user-friendly, that we would be able to use it, and that the kids would just love it," she said.
They purchased the equipment using the funds, and now the kids have a strong ownership over their morning show.
One of those students, fourth-grader Ca'Aliyah White, has been involved in the television station for the past two weeks.
The first student there Thursday morning, White was typing and editing her script for her segment.
"It's actually been really fun," she said. "I enjoy getting to be a part of TV. It was really an honor when I first got the (letter in the) mail."
Each year about 80 students express interest in being a part of the station, and co-adviser and fourth-grade teacher Dave Kruger breaks the students into groups of eight.
Those groups become the station crew for a three-week period.
"During that time, they get in there and do as much as possible," Tiemann-Kadyszewski said.
White has grown to love her weather segment, and it's helped her in other areas of her learning.
"I like doing weather, or history, because it helps me with my spelling," the fourth-grader said.
During their eight-minute morning show, that plays in each classroom in the school, the students cover weather, lunches, local sports, birthdays, school announcements, and history.
They even end with a joke and a little bit of dancing to get the students awake for the day.
Sound effects play throughout the newscast, and all of the research is done by the students ahead of time.
"I think it's wonderful that they get these kinds of experiences here," said building principal John Penman. "Because of being an engineering and communications building, there are opportunities for the kids that don't exist in other place in the Capital District."
It's helped the students learn and experience, but it's also helped them to grow.
Arianne Alvarado, a fifth-grader on the team, said she gets nervous, but it's "fun because everybody gets to see you."
And it gives them a moment to shine.
"I might have stage fright," she said, "but you get to feel famous."
Alvarado said she's learned too how teleprompters and cameras work, bringing in that engineering piece.
Sitting alongside her chatting about the news station was Braeden Dutcher, another fifth-grader.
Being on a television news station is something she wants to continue.
"You get to do fun things and you get to show everybody what you like to do," she said, adding that she too has learned a lot about the technology end, even though sometimes it can get confusing.
In the end, the students get the chance to learn, and their advisors and principal are happy to provide them the opportunity.
"I give a lot of credit to the former principal for putting these things in place, as well as the faculty and staff who moved these things forward and got these things together," Penman said. "It brings to a lot of them (the students) a love of learning and engagement.
"They are very enthusiastic, and it shows in how they perform in the school."