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TUNING IN TO WGBS

Good morning, Great Brook

STUDENTS IN STUDIO: Live from Antrim, the Bobcat Morning Show pulls together 17 middle school students  who are responsible for  writing, editing, producing  and delivering all the  news that’s fit to air

  • Morning news show at Great Brook School<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

    Morning news show at Great Brook School

    (Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

  • Chloe Cheviot, left, and Breanna Lester, center, review their upcoming weather report with producer Sarah Tyler.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

    Chloe Cheviot, left, and Breanna Lester, center, review their upcoming weather report with producer Sarah Tyler.

    (Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

  • Morning news show at Great Brook School<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

    Morning news show at Great Brook School

    (Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

  • Morning news show at Great Brook School<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

    Morning news show at Great Brook School

    (Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

  • Morning news show at Great Brook School<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

    Morning news show at Great Brook School

    (Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

  • Morning news show at Great Brook School<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

    Morning news show at Great Brook School

    (Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

  • Snow flurries dangle from a stick above the head of anchor Carly Storro.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

    Snow flurries dangle from a stick above the head of anchor Carly Storro.

    (Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

  • Morning news show at Great Brook School<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

    Morning news show at Great Brook School

    (Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

  • Snowflakes dangle over weather reporters Chloe Cheviot, left, and Breanna Lester.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

    Snowflakes dangle over weather reporters Chloe Cheviot, left, and Breanna Lester.

    (Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

  • Isabel Wilder, left, and Shea Ellis give the sports update.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

    Isabel Wilder, left, and Shea Ellis give the sports update.

    (Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

  • Director Mya Poluchov keeps her staff on track<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

    Director Mya Poluchov keeps her staff on track

    (Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

  • Morning news show at Great Brook School<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

    Morning news show at Great Brook School

    (Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

  • Morning news show at Great Brook School<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

    Morning news show at Great Brook School

    (Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

  • Morning news show at Great Brook School<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Chloe Cheviot, left, and Breanna Lester, center, review their upcoming weather report with producer Sarah Tyler.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Morning news show at Great Brook School<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Morning news show at Great Brook School<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Morning news show at Great Brook School<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Morning news show at Great Brook School<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Snow flurries dangle from a stick above the head of anchor Carly Storro.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Morning news show at Great Brook School<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Snowflakes dangle over weather reporters Chloe Cheviot, left, and Breanna Lester.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Isabel Wilder, left, and Shea Ellis give the sports update.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Director Mya Poluchov keeps her staff on track<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Morning news show at Great Brook School<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Morning news show at Great Brook School<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

The library at Great Brook School is a hotbed of activity at 7:30 on a recent Friday morning. It’s the home of WGBS, the school’s news, sports and weather station, and 17 students are preparing to go on the air with their daily live broadcast — the Bobcat Morning Show — that will go out in 15 minutes to every classroom in the school.

In what was formerly a librarian’s office, two students check through slides on a laptop computer, which is linked to a video camera aimed at two stools backed by a bright red banner reading WGBS. Other students hop on and off of those stools, with news anchors reading scripts about upcoming events and weather forecasters testing the props that will let their peers know snow flurries are possible. In the main room, two sportcasters huddle over papers with the results of the previous day’s games, hustling to get their script done so they can go on the air.

As 7:45 approaches, director Mya Poluchov, a seventh-grader, calls for quiet, then flashes the countdown for the last few seconds before pointing to newsanchors Sarah Tyler and K.J. Ammon, who welcome their viewers, just like the pros on WMUR or the Boston TV stations, as the show goes live.

“Good morning Great Brook Bobcats,” says Sarah, a seventh grader. “ I’m Cat.”

“And I’m Cat,” says K.J, who’s in eighth grade.

And off they go, with the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by a lively reading of the day’s announcements and reminders of events like ugly sweater day — “If you can’t find one, just ask Ms. Blair,” says one of the Cats. (All the students on the show have stage names — either Bob or Cat, after the school’s mascot.)

The tech guys flash images of food on the screen, while Cat the menu reader (eighth-grader Naomi Rubin) takes one of the stools. She then runs through the day’s menu, ending with a hearty “Bon Appetit.”

Images of lightning, snow and rainbows precede the weather report, read with gusto by eighth-grade weatherpersons Chloe Cheviot and Breanna Lester, bundled in winter coats as a fan blows their hair and snowflakes hanging from a rod just out of camera range dance behind them. Meanwhile Mya the director gestures vigorously, encouraging everyone on camera to look up and, especially important, to smile.

Seventh-graders Isabel Wilder and Shea Ellis follow with the sports report, and Friday’s show ends with a few bad jokes, delivered enthusiastically by Bob (seventh-grader Hunter Salamy) and Cat (Sarah Tyler, in a second on-air role)

On most days, teachers Ellen Kidd and Maryanne Cullinan aren’t in the studio itself when the production airs.

“It’s really the kids’ show,” Kidd says. “They do a remarkable job.

Kidd suggested the program last spring to Great Brook Principal Jim Elder, and after he gave his support, she enlisted Cullinan to help.

The two teachers now have all the students who work on the show in their advisory block, at the very start of the day, and also in the first academic block immediately following.

“They get off the bus and come right to the library and get to work,” Kidd says.

The program benefits the students in many ways, according to Kidd.

“They get so much out of it,” she says. “They have learned to work together and celebrate each other’s strengths. They’ve grown in confidence. They’re learning writing skills, interview skills, the appropriate way to give each other feedback. They are really becoming leaders in the school.

“And they are learning to juggle a lot,” Kidd adds.

After the show, the class gathers in the media room for a recap of what went well and what didn’t. They also share their thoughts on why they like working on the program.

“We’ve all become friends,” says seventh-grader Lizzie Nute. “We all help each other out and we have to work together.”

“It gave me the confidence to speak in front of people,” says Shea.

“It’s bringing people together,” says Mya. “Some of us are athletes, some are nerds, in a good way. Through the show, we can be geeky and weird, but we can be ourselves.”

Mya takes on a lot of responsibility as she supervises her fellow students who are on the air.

“When you direct, you have to pay close attention,” she says, “It’s really depressing when they don’t smile. You can’t be too nice, but you can’t be mean either.”

The students alternate jobs regularly so everyone gets to try different roles if they are interested and several of them say the show has helped boost awareness for younger students of all the activities available at the school.

“No one ever listened to the intercom. That’s old,” says Hunter.

“Now people pay attention,” adds Sarah, who is the producer of the show, responsible for planning and assignments, as well as an anchor person.

About half the class belongs to the school’s improv comedy group, and they sometimes will ad lib on the air, but they’re cautious.

“You have to be careful,” says K.J. “You want to make jokes, but not hurt anyone’s feelings.”

These students are a pilot group, the first ones to do such a show at Great Brook.

“They are creating this out of whole cloth,” says GBS Principal Jim Elder. “The kids are great at coming up with ideas, making this all work.”

Elder says the Bobcat Morning Show is an effort to build a sense of community.

“It’s working. Now people are really interested in the morning announcements,” he says. “It’s been very effective at bringing the school together. It feels like a family. That’s our goal.”

And the older students hope they’ll be able to continue their broadcasting when they leave Great Brook.

“Some of us really want to do improv or a morning show at ConVal,” says Mya.

The Bobcat morning show can be seen online at conval.edu/schools/gbs/extended-learning-program-elp/bobcat-morning-show-archives.

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