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Delivering the news: Elementary students produce daily program

By Richard Greene | Published Wednesday, March 27, 2019
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NEWSMAKERS – Chico Elementary students Savanna Sitek and Emmie Esparza are among the many anchors to work on the Dragon Tells set this spring. The YouTube program airs daily at the campus. Messenger photo by Richard Greene

It’s Terrific Tuesday, the Dragon Tells anchors proclaim before pitching it to their reporter in the cafeteria for a rundown of the day’s menu.

Quickly, programming jumps to the next reporter for a list of birthdays before the segue into the birthday dance, a highlight of the daily Chico Elementary YouTube broadcast, according to second grader Emily Esparza.

“I like the dancing,” Esparza said.

Since January, classes at the school have tuned in each morning for the newscast anchored by various students under the direction of instructional technologist Breann Cox. The two- to three-minute broadcast includes the U.S. and Texas pledges followed by the lunch menu, birthdays and the daily features like Wacky Science Wednesdays and Youth Sports Friday.

“A couple other districts had similar news shows in the morning,” Cox said. “It was a way to get information out to the parents, and they were able to see what we were doing.”

Cox films all the episodes on Thursdays for the following week with students reporting to her studio during their visits to the computer lab. She said it does not take away from their classroom time.

“They are still working on computers and getting those computer skills, just in a different avenue of it,” Cox said.

Teachers nominate students for the highly-sought anchor roles.

“I want it to be kids that deserve the right to have that extracurricular,” Cox said. “They are also nominating kids that I wouldn’t have thought to pick. They send me kids that are so shy. Then I set them over by the green screen, and they are a totally different person.”

Fifth grader Savanna Sitek said she wasn’t nervous to be in front of the camera.

“I forget that people are watching,” Sitek said. “I enjoyed telling the school what’s happening.”

The popularity of the news show has students asking constantly to be anchors.

“They are begging. If they see me now, they ask, ‘When do I get to be on Dragon Tells?'” Cox said.

After her anchors are selected, Cox shares a Google document on the Tuesday before the filming. The students then come up with the stories.

“I’m blown away with the things they come up with,” Cox said.

Along with the birthday dances, another popular segment has been librarian Tammie Richey reading stories.

“I like it when Mrs. Richey reads to us,” Esparza said.

While helping to keep parents, staff and students informed, Cox sees the program as a way to connect with students to teach them valuable skills and motivate them to keep up with their studies.

“I was fortunate enough to be introduced to this back in high school,” Cox said. “I was the outside-the-box student. I didn’t like the mundane math and reading classes. I had a teacher that introduced me to videography. It’s amazing if you introduce them to something they are passionate about. It motivates them in all avenues of life.”

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