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This just in: Jacob Wismer students put television reporting in the spotlight
by: Ray Pitz, Jacob Wismer fifth-graders responsible for the school’s Monday morning announcements include, bottom left, Laura Maple, Tiara Schopp and Eileen Yao; top, Billy Yuan, Eddie Wang and Timothy Au.

Standing outside Jacob Wismer Elementary School Thursday, fifth-graders Eddie Wang and Eileen Yao put on their game faces. A minute later they began taping what's become an anticipated weekly event at the school - Monday morning announcements.

As Wang asks students to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, Kathleen High, a technical assistant at the school, videotapes the young anchor.

Yao than reports that there will be no school Friday and with the composure of Katie Couric, announces the next sequent: 'Here's some first-graders talking about playground safety.'

Wang and Yao are part of a six-member team comprising the school's Video Club, a group organized by High when the school first opened six years ago.

Each Thursday and Friday, the students spend 15 to 30 minutes on the program, doing standups for informational bits and features.

'This particular group of kids was picked from last year's fourth-graders,' said High, who does all the editing for the program, which usually lasts about five minutes. 'I told teachers from the end of the year, I needed a student from every class.'

At the end of last year, the Video Club featured clips of Battle of the Books where students read and later participated in a quiz-like show to test their knowledge.

They also interviewed Dan Gutman, a noted national children's author who has penned such gems as 'Ms. Hannah is Bananas!'

Taping outside

What High has discovered during the years is that students tend to listen to information when other students deliver it.

Every two months, the then-seasoned lineup of anchors and newspeople are replaced with brand new talent, said High.

Initially confined to shooting indoors, Video Club member Billy Yuan said there was a consensus that a change of scenery might benefit the segment.

'So we scrapped (the inside videotaping) and went outside,' he said.

Timothy Au, another Video Club member, said he enjoys taping the broadcast outside because it's often too noisy inside and there are fewer distractions.

Often, the students interview the school 'Peacemakers,' students who are involved with issues tied to promoting peace and kind acts.

Anchor Tiara Schopp recently interviewed Derec Porter, a recess assistant who also is in charge of intramural sports at the school.

'I just asked him what he does,' said Schopp, noting that she also mentioned he's new at the school.

In the future, they may interview members of the Friends of the Earth Club, a club dedicated to the environment, which High is helping to get off the ground.

True news hounds to the end, before this news interview was finished, the Video Club anchors announced plans to get into the head of the person interviewing them.

Yuan asked the questions in the same rapid-fire delivery befitting a pro: How did you get into reporting? What has been your funniest experience? What exactly do you do?

Little editing

Getting a taste of television, some might think all the fifth-graders see themselves as future broadcasters.

Not quite.

They see careers as computer engineers, video game makers, managers for the search engine Google and everything in between.

'I either want to be a fashion designer, medical research person, hairstylists or an actress,' said Maple.

High admits that for some of the students, seeing their face on television once a week is the highlight of being in the Video Club.

For Yao it's being with the other anchors and the fun involved in the production.

However, just like in real television, there are times when, because of lack of time - or possibly the hilarity of the moment - that little editing is done.

'It is kind of embarrassing (because sometimes) we mess up and she doesn't clip it,' said Maple.