With a swoosh in on her wheelie chair, Kayla Johnson enters the frame from the right side of the screen, and Stevie Olek from the left.
So begins another broadcast of WBHS, the headline newscast written, announced, shot and edited by Brookfield High School students.
Kayla, a junior, said she came up with the signature wheel-on, wheel-off entrance and exit of the newscast, each edition of which is posted on YouTube.
“I just thought it was cool,” Kayla said, which is pretty much the same answer she gave when asked why she wanted to participate in WBHS.
The students present school sporting event dates, fundraisers, birthdays, the weather, countdowns to holidays, reminders of the end of the grading period and some news that is not school-related, such as the firing of Cleveland sports teams’ coaches.
They did a story on a school assembly, and ask students and staff questions, such as what was it like driving in snow for the first time, and what do you think of Ski Club disbanding.
“I think it’s a good way to keep everybody informed on what’s going on, especially people who don’t listen to the announcements,” Stevie said.
High school language arts teacher Jen Jerek said school officials hoped WBHS would make information they want to get out to students “more engaging” and “hopefully get more students to listen to them.”
The newscast is part of the Multimedia Communications class, and the students are graded for their work. The class also publishes the yearbook, Jerek said.
“I didn’t want to do the yearbook,” said senior Jarrett Johnson, Kayla’s brother.
Kayla and Stevie are the principal on-air talent and they try to project friendly personas in their very informal segments, Kayla said.
Behind the scenes, sophomore Ricky Atkinson handles much of the shooting and editing, and senior Joe Vankirk and Jarrett help with the writing.
The students, who also send out text messages, typically get together one day a week and compare notes scribbled into a note book or stored on their phones, then shoot each segment.
“I just enjoy the variety of stories that we get to cover,” said Ricky, the only one of the five who expressed any interest in journalism as a career.
Jerek said she wants WBHS students to “ask the hard questions and get real answers,” and to interact with students “they don’t normally get to.”
“I’m also hoping the students get more comfortable with technology, particularly video editing, to better prepare them for the technological world of today,” she said.