By Dawn M. Chiossi
Who needs coffee to perk up their mornings? Those at Ridgedale Middle School in Florham Park are sparking creativity in their mornings before their day even starts, by live broadcasting of their morning announcements.
Everyone who has ever been to school can relate to beginning the day by listening to morning announcements. While the information may be important and germane, they can often be dry, dull, and about as interesting as reciting a multiplication table.
But now this innovative program at Ridgedale Middle School has changed that. Instead of half listening to that drone, students can now be entertained and engaged with a live broadcast of their school information.
According to Ridgedale Teacher and Facilitator, Nick Esposito, this inventive program has blossomed over the past two years. The announcements have transformed from audio only, simple announcements into a wonderful creative show.
Ridgedale’s live announcements have been going on since October and will continue until the end of the year.
Approximately 25 students from all different disciplines are divided among three classes, and give their energy and talents to this production.
These energetic and creative students essentially run all aspects of the production down to the last detail.
As Esposito explains, “Since the announcements run live every morning, the students have a 40 minute class period to prepare the day before, and they get right to work. During this period, students write, edit and practice their script for the following morning. While this is happening, another group works on setting up the lights, the camera and the editing software we use for our live broadcasts. They then come together and then practice a couple of times before going live in the morning. They run everything.”
The students are even in charge of tasks that include writing and fact checking the script, using the teleprompter, and utilizing live steaming software for editing purposes.
The kids basically stick to a set basic format, but on occasion, they will add other fun events punctuated in them. Events such as teacher student ping pong matches, public service announcements on school issues, talk about issues related to bullying, respect, kindness, or other educational pillars. And they will additionally interview players and participants from sports teams and drama groups.
Another facet of the morning announcements is involving and engaging the rest of the student body. Esposito mentions the “Mystery Person of the Morning” segment in particular. He describes this as a kind of guessing game where they provide clues as to a person’s identity, without seeing their face, and announce it at the end of the credits.
“It has been great,” Esposito says. “Students and staff tune in on a regular basis when they realize it’s live. Students all want to be a part of it as well, so it’s really supporting us trying to build a positive school culture. “
As an added bonus, the live announcements are a perfect vehicle for the students to get valuable hands-on experience in the communications field.
“It’s amazing to give the students the opportunity to experience a real world setting at such a young age,” Esposito tells. “They are in the driver’s seat: sink or swim, it’s on them. My role as facilitator is to let them experience what it’s like when they come together to work as a team.”
When asked what his favorite thing about the announcements is, Esposito says, “I’m proud of how well they work together, how professional they are with it, and how creative they are. I really enjoy seeing the students having fun with the announcements. Reading the news accurately is great and important, but to see their personalities come out, having them joke with one another and make it entertaining is not only great for the school when they watch, but enjoyable for them as well.”