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On the Air at Nativity of Our Lord

The Tiger News Network is a student-run program that is broadcast to the Nativity classrooms.

From Left: Heaven Sulflow, Lizzy Wagner and Sam Hezel film the word of the day segment. Photo by James Boyle.
From Left: Heaven Sulflow, Lizzy Wagner and Sam Hezel film the word of the day segment. Photo by James Boyle.
It's recess at Nativity of Our Lord, a short respite from the daily classroom grind. Instead of relaxing an chit-chatting with their friends, five students are hard at work, fine-tuning the Spanish word of the day segment for the school's brand new Tiger News Network.

On-air personality Erin Devine's introduction of some Thanksgiving-themed words seem perfectly acceptable for the show's broadcast the following week, but the rest of the crew want to take a couple more cracks at it. As they adjust the studio equipment, under the guidance of staff moderators Dan Myers and Mitzi Chirillo, it is clear that the kids take this extracurricular activity quite seriously.

"I want to be a meteorologist when I'm older," said Erin. "I like announcing things, and this is really good practice for me."

Once Gabby Hocker, Lizzy Wagner and Heaven Sulflow finish filming the segment, it's up to tech wizard Sam Hezel to edit the footage and add graphics where the greenscreen is set up. That's right, they have a green screen.

"The kids have really dedicated themselves to this," said Chirillo. "Sam works on the editing at home and comes in early to school to fine-tune it."

According to Chirillo, 18 students from the seventh and eighth grades, broken up into two teams, work together to create the Tiger News broadcasts. They meet in her office and put story ideas on the planning board. It takes approximately two weeks to complete the 8-minute segments, but as they continue honing their skills, the news team hopes to record more episodes each month.

"The other students love watching the shows, especially the young kids," said Chirillo. "We recorded the Halloween parade and played it back with voiceovers. The kids loved seeing themselves on the televisions."

The Tiger News Network began when Nativity earned a $2,500 award from a contest held by Beneficial Savings Bank last year. Students produced a two-minute video, which earned a spot in the top 5. The public cast their votes for their favorites, with Nativity taking second place.

The school used the money to buy some professional quality camera and studio equipment. Before they could get started, however, the young newshounds needed a crash course on how to use it.

"We took a trip up to Ann's Choice, and the residents there gave them a lot of advice," said Chirillo. "They have their own television studio, and they have a ton of knowledge and experience. The students saw all the equipment, learned about things like 3-point lighting and how to formulate a news story."

The segments are filmed in the school library, with the hopes of creating a dedicated space in the near future. Plans are also forming to purchase some more cameras that will allow the students to do more reporting from the field, such as sporting events and Field Day.

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