With the script being written, the shot being framed, audio being checked and other final touches being made before the morning's newscast, more than 15 people barely noticed they're all squeezed into the tiny live room or control room.
As the show starts, controllers chatter through walkie-talkies to directors who give the news anchors cues to repeat a segment or button up their shirts. A run-down of the news, weather, sports and feature stories are delivered before all anchors sign off, reminding their audience to "make this day your day."
When live cast ends, small problems are addressed but not overly assessed. They'll all have a chance tomorrow morning to do the same thing - or do the same thing even better.
Mirror photo by Beth Ann Downey
Hollidaysburg Area Junior High School students — (from left) Lauren Lehew, Wyatt Cree, Jacob Pasley and Dominic Walls — perform for Tiger TV, the school’s morning newscast.
Despite the sophistication of this newscast, it doesn't take place every morning in a professional studio. And even though they carry themselves with an air of authority, these aren't professional broadcast journalists, producers or directors.
They are eighth- and ninth-grade students at Hollidaysburg Area Junior High School.
The school's morning newscast, called Tiger TV, gives students with interests in everything from video editing to public speaking a chance to work together and create their own media.
"I'm just very impressed with this group of students," said Stephanie Everett, co-adviser for Tiger TV and teacher of the TV production class that many of the students involved take during first period. "They take it very seriously. It's a very purposeful thing to them."
Students involved with Tiger TV are already working on the morning's broadcast at 7:15 a.m., 15 minutes before other students are required to be in homeroom.
"They get in here way before me," Everett said. "They're all waiting for me at the door, which is neat."
The students get to try out three to four different jobs during the semester, but most lean toward certain roles based on interest and personality traits, Everett said.
"Not everybody can be a leader, but it's great for somebody who has that personality to have the opportunity to be a leader or this director," she added. "Some of our kids crave that. They get upset when we switch their job."
Andrew Lashinsky, 14, of Hollidaysburg, said he first got involved with Tiger TV because he was interested in technical things like audio editing. Now, he enjoys being able to direct the newscast on most mornings, he says.
"I wanted to join to help do technical things for Tiger TV and help expand my experience," he added. "It could help your future when you go on to college or a job, to have this experience and show you know how to do certain things."
Jacob Pasley and Wyatt Cree, both 14 of Hollidaysburg, are interested in drama and enjoy being anchors for Tiger TV because they like public speaking.
"I really like media and everything about it," Cree said. "It's just a really fun class."
Pasley said being on Tiger TV and involved with the yearbook staff has also made him interested in journalism.
"And speaking in front of people is usually just simple for me," he added.
To help keep other students interested in the newscast, the Tiger TV participants also shoot and edit short feature segments. In the past, they have had anything from a history teacher dressing up in costume to a science teacher demonstrating an experiment.
"We try to make it fun," Everett said. "The kids will watch if there's something eye-catching."
Being able to be creative and have fun are just a few of the reasons that Terri Lingenfelter, a retired teacher who used to be an adviser for Tiger TV and still helps out, said being involved in the newscast is a good alternative learning experience.
"It allows kids who are hands-on to explore different avenues than they're used to in a school, where it's books and lectures and that type of thing," she said. "They need to be self-motivated. Kids who are self-motivated do extremely well in this class."
Teamwork is also an important lesson taught, Lingenfelter said, because they're learning how to think on their feet, troubleshoot and get along with people they wouldn't normally work with.
"Some of these kids have found that they have leadership skills that they didn't know they had before," she said. "Other kids in the school do look up to them, and I think that is something that, especially in junior high, needs to be cultivated."
Learning to be trustworthy, formulaic and professional are also important when delivering the news, Everett said, is being able to establish an element of trust with the audience. Students like Pasley understand the importance of that lesson.
"I think we're all really focused and we all understand you need to be professional," he said. "If you look bad on TV everyone thinks that's what type of person you are. So we all try to make ourselves look professional and responsible on air because that's actually who we are."
The students are also currently working on a 30 minute-long program highlighting the school's programs in the arts, sports and academics. Everett hopes it can be aired on public access television.
"It gives them a big goal to work on," she said.
Mirror Staff Writer Beth Ann Downey is at 946-7520.