1-2-3 … Roll Cameras

Published 9:35 am Monday, May 4, 2009

BURLINGTON — It is five minutes to show time and Jakob Helton is busy poring over his script for the morning broadcast. Soon the anchors arrive at the WPUP studio high atop the old South Point High School. Or at least on the second floor of the building.

Now Helton calls out, “Two minutes to air.” Soon the Thursday morning edition of the Burlington Elementary television station will be going out to all the monitors, broadcasting throughout the building on Channel 6.

It was nine years ago that Harriette Ramsey, longtime Burlington educator, had the dream to start a television station for the elementary students.

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“I didn’t know what I was doing, but I knew what I wanted,” Ramsey said.

She went to those who did know, especially the technical experts at Armstrong Utilities. By the next school year she had her television station. Now Ramsey, along with Matt Watts, fourth and fifth grade social studies teacher, provides the project’s guidance.

It may have been a teacher’s idea, but it is the students’ hard work that puts the show on the air day after day. The morning broadcast is a five time a week production that airs before classes start. On Friday the show goes out on the local public access station so the community can tune in as well.

The students write the script that goes onto a teleprompter that the three anchors read from.

That morning Nate Sanders was behind the camera with Joey Riner pulling sound tech duty.

Anchors were Anna Litchfield, Emily Smith and Jesse Pullen.

Helton says he might go into broadcasting as a career, but right now enjoys working on WPUP because of the camaraderie.

“It is just fun to be with some of my friends and do extra stuff,” he said.

The goal is to give everyone in the fifth grade a chance to be before the cameras giving weather reports, school announcements and the daily menu. That goal stretches to include the entire school when it is the daily pledge of allegiance. Every student in the school has the chance to lead their classmates in that.

After nine years, WPUP has proved an experiment that turned out to be a success, as Ramsey sees it.

“It is seeing the students just blossom,” Ramsey said. “They get a lot of self-esteem. It’s seeing the joy on their faces.”