Originally Published: March 10, 2009 11:04 p.m.
Each morning at 7:45, students at Del Rio Elementary School start their day watching a 15-minute TV broadcast from KDRN (Kids Del Rio Network) informing them about what's happening in their school.
Not only is the school unique in the fact it has its own TV studio and network, but also because Del Rio students run it.
Hanna Pennington, one of the fourth-grade news anchors for Tuesday's show, said about being an anchor, "It is quite interesting. Instead of teachers coming on, we get to connect with each other."
Patti Allen-LaFleur, Del Rio's computer and TV broadcast teacher, said Nancy Helm, Del Rio's principal in the late 1980s, got a grant to start the TV studio because she wanted to tie technology and communication together. Today, tax credit donations keep it operating.
The TV studio originally was in the library's lobby, and then moved to its present location in a small room beside the computer lab.
Thirty-eight students - 24 anchors and 14 camera people - participate in the program. They divide into four teams and, each day, about 10 students create the actual broadcast, so each team does the broadcast one week each month of the semester.
Allen-LaFleur writes all the news and scripts for each morning's broadcast, takes photos and looks up the weather. She also assigns students to the different roles they perform for each broadcast.
The broadcast starts with a song, followed by the weather report, Buzzword results, a humorous skit, the principal's report and the wrap-up. And each Friday, the student broadcasters interview a Del Rio alumnus.
Allen-LaFleur said they have interviewed a male nurse, an anthropology student, and an alumnus who recently climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.
She added that the students who do the broadcast are among the school's top readers.
"The kids learn to speak well and it gives them lots of confidence. I also see leadership in kids who wouldn't try out otherwise. It definitely helps shy kids," she said.
She selects her camera crews from students in her third-grade computer class.
Principal Susan Clark, who participates daily in the broadcasts, said, "This show is 100 percent different than just making the announcements over the loudspeaker. It's visual, and (it's) all students (doing the broadcast)."
Brock Ely, a cameraman, said he likes his role because "it's fun and I like the challenge. It is challenging to focus the camera and get it where it is supposed to be."
Blake Ely, Tuesday's fourth-grade director, does a little bit of everything, but likes being a director best. Next year he wants to be director more often.
Tatum DeRonde said, "I want to be director because you're boss of the whole room."
Allen-LaFleur said the director has to be someone who is responsible because he or she has to come in and turn the cameras on and substitute for other members of the cast in emergencies. The director also selects the song that begins that day's broadcast.
She said snafus do happen in the live broadcasts.
Alexis Smith, a cameraman, recounted that once the check battery message popped up on the screen mid-broadcast. And Brock said that once the prompter with the script came up on the broadcast screen.
Allen-LaFleur said a former KDRN anchor, Eli Arnold, has gone into journalism after graduating from Arizona State University.