St. Maria Goretti students take to video cameras, green screens to deliver school announcements

by Michelle McDaniel

North Texas Catholic

SMGCS NEWS 09/09/2016 from Saint Maria Goretti on Vimeo.

ARLINGTON — Listening to the morning announcements over the school’s PA system is a thing of the past for students at St. Maria Goretti Catholic School. Instead, these students have their announcements delivered via newscast, courtesy of fellow pupils.

Filmed, edited, uploaded online, and then streamed in classrooms each school day, the morning news program is unlike any in the Diocese of Fort Worth, said Music Education Specialist Brandon Smith, who came up with the idea. Students act as reporters, delivering the information necessary.

While Smith is trying to get the idea to catch on at other local Catholic schools, St. Maria Goretti School is the first and only school to deliver announcements in this way.

“I believe that each school should have this program, not just to have, but to use to bridge the gap between school, community, and Christ,” Smith said. “Launching a broadcast that allows the students, staff, parents, community, and church to pray together, sing together, worship together, and grow together is headed for never-ending success.”

The school’s first morning news show was aired Sept. 7. It takes about 30 minutes to record a 15-minute show before school, which is then edited and aired the next morning. Smith helps the student reporters by working as the producer, director, editor, and videographer.  

The program’s goal, Smith explained, is to make communication between school, home, and community easy, accessible, and convenient. And so far it’s working, he said.

“I’m inspired to do this because I love to see my students become successful in all of their endeavors,” Smith said. “The greatest reward is watching the growth and passion in each of them as they do what is necessary to make themselves, their school, teachers, parents, and their community proud and appreciative.”

St. Maria Goretti Catholic School students and Music Education Specialist Brandon Smith team up each school morning to develop a newscast delivering campus announcements, prayer, weather, jokes, and more. (Photo courtesy Brandon Smith) 

Currently, Smith uses his own equipment to film the students as they give the announcements, but the school is in the process of purchasing a new camera for these purposes. Green screens of varying shades are set up on the cafeteria’s stage behind a desk for the anchors to sit at.

“This​ ​show​ ​has​ ​helped​ ​our​ ​students​ ​to​ ​develop​ ​socially​ ​and​ ​to​ ​experience​ ​new​ ​relationships​ ​with their​ ​peers,”​ ​Smith​ ​said.​ ​“Our​ ​show​ ​allows​ ​students​ ​to​ ​pray,​ ​learn,​ ​and​ ​laugh​ ​together.​ ​It​ ​has​ ​really set​ ​the​ ​pace​ ​for​ ​what​ ​is​ ​good,​ ​true,​ ​and​ ​beautiful,​ ​which​ ​is​ ​the​ ​love​ ​of​ ​God,​ ​self,​ ​and​ ​others.”

Participation in the morning news program is open to students from second grade up to eighth grade. Each grade level runs the morning news show for roughly a month before passing it on to the next grade.

“You’re like a celebrity,” said eighth-grader Kayla O’Connell, who is an anchor on the newscast. “[The other students] know our names and wave to us in the hallway. I feel like a celebrity. I’m not, but [it feels like it].”

Different roles are available for students to fill, which are outlined for them before they decide which they would like to participate as. They take on the responsibility for the role they choose, and gather their own information to be submitted daily for approval before airing.

According to SMGCS’s School Development Director Abbey Lewis, the morning announcements were originally more news focused, but now, students have more freedom to express themselves and their interests, with segments such as “Joke of the Day” and “Science Fact of the Day.”

“They’re able to showcase themselves and what they’re proud of,” Lewis said. “[Smith] asked the kids about what God has given them and their interests. He gets them thinking about what God gives you as a gift.”

Both faculty and students alike take pride in this program, which Smith considers to be “unique, different, and innovative.”

“There is much academic and real world exposure this program offers to the learning experience of the students,” Smith said. “Since our first airing, the students have been motivated to step outside of their comfort zones and take part in an experience that is both challenging and rewarding.”

ARLINGTON — Listening to the morning announcements over the school’s PA system is a thing of the past for students at St. Maria Goretti Catholic School. Instead, these students have their announcements delivered via newscast, courtesy of fellow pupils.

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