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Meet the talented Manor fifth-graders putting on their school’s newscasts one take at a time

During the newscasts, the students greet the student body, lead the pledges and even announce birthdays.

MANOR, Texas — Students at a Manor elementary school are learning communication and leadership skills through building a newscast.

From soothing sounds to the sight of comfort animals on the couch, at first glance, the room looks like nothing more than a counseling room.

“It's a dark room and quiet with a couch for the crying kids,” said Janet Ward, the school counselor who doubles as the news director of the Blake Manor Bulldog News.

“That's available to kids all day except 1:15 p.m. to 2 o'clock," Ward said.

Because in those 45 minutes, the students walk in and turn the room into the news team.

The counseling room turned newsroom is run entirely by fifth-graders. Some are anchors, other students take on the role of technical director, teleprompter operator, graphics and audio technicians.

PHOTOS: Blake Manor Bulldog News team

Under Ward's watch, the students at Blake Manor Elementary create video announcements daily. They greet the student body, lead the pledges and even announce birthdays.

“It’s real life and it puts them out it pushes them outside of their comfort zone like crazy,” said Ward.

“I never thought I was going to be here because I’m very shy and I talk a lot with my friends, but I don't really talk a lot to strangers, so to me doing this is really cool,” said Annette Urias, a student anchor.

The skills they learn go beyond communication to leadership skills.

“We also learn that we're the voice for the school, so we're being leaders. That's the language that we use between us is ‘you guys are the leaders and people are listening to you,’" Ward explained. “They know their audience is five years old to 10 years old and so they adjust their language. Then, they do the teleprompter, and they have to do their literacy every day. Capitalization and all that comes up just naturally as part of the job.”

The equipment may look hard to operate, but to young pro and technical director Antonio Bello, it's easy.

“For example, 'P' is for the pledges and you also have to turn on the camera or else they'll hear you,” said Bello.

Amariah Mendoza is the talent behind the teleprompter.

“This is what the announcers are reading, so whatever's on this computer, it projects onto that computer,” said Mendoza. “I've learned that I can interact with other people that aren't in my class. It's important to share good information with the whole school."

Now, they can spread that good news with new equipment, such as a soundboard, microphone, lights and a hard drive for the student-run news program. The school just purchased it with a $1,500 grant it received from the Manor Schoolhouse Foundation.

“It helps them to keep expanding what they're doing,” said Ward. “It helps them to produce a much higher quality because the picture and the sound are so much better. It gives them pride. I mean, they're so excited that the work that they do now looks even better.”

Through the program, students have the opportunity to learn both on and off the set, as they prepare for the future one take at a time.

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