Students bring news broadcast to city

Posted: Monday, February 11, 2008

The city's newest TV news program is scheduled to start airing this week on Juneau's television sets.

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Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire

The three-minute broadcasts are a mix of still pictures, interviews and school announcements ending with the Pledge of Allegiance that will air throughout the day on channel 6.

The broadcasts star and are made entirely by a handful of middle-school students at Floyd Dryden, with a little help from technology teacher Alan Degener. The students meet after school and film the short broadcasts for the next morning's announcements.

Degener said the idea of students making a short news program to read school announcements has been in the works for several years, but only got going last year.

The makeshift studio at Floyd Dryden is complete with three remote-operated cameras, a green screen, and sound and video mixers. Degener said much of the equipment has been donated from outside sources and credits Principal Thomas Milliron for getting the program off and running.

"We've run a couple of thank yous," Degener said.

Milliron said he saw the news program as a way to get students more involved and said he hopes to see the program continue to grow.

He asked the students and Degener to film a student-run question and answer session scheduled for this morning with district officials about the new high school opening next year.

"It's a kid-centered effort to promote adults' awareness of what kids are thinking," Milliron said.

At a recent taping last week, anchors Sierra Risley and Christie Adams chewed gum, played paddy cakes, and danced what seemed to be the Macarena to pass the time before going on camera.

"I want to be an actress so I have to get used to being on camera. So I'm all good," Adams said.

"That sounds fun, being an actress," Risley replied.

"Yeah," said Adams.

Meanwhile, eighth graders Max Lyons and Aaron Druyvestein were fiddling with the video and audio control panels when Lyons told Druyvestein there weren't any jobs left to do.

"So I'm just going to stand back here?" Druyvestein asked.

"Yeah, but your name will be in the credits, if that makes it better," Lyons said.

Degener, who seemed unfazed by the frantic energy of the 13- and 14-year-olds swirling around him, calmly told the students it was time to start taping.

"All right magic hour, 3:30, let's go," Degener said.

Druyvestein found a job working the sound board.

And the anchors decided to pretend like they were in mid-conversation when the taping began.

"You and Sarah are right, he does have the hottest hair," one of them said, before launching into the next day's announcements that included a reminder for students not to roam the halls before or after school.

Afterwards, Degener said he had no clue what the girls' improvised introduction was about.

"I don't understand it," he said.

"It's not something that's supposed to be understood," Lyons replied.

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