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Watch now: Morning news show kept Stone-Robinson students connected during closure

When a group of Stone-Robinson Elementary students wanted to bring their school together while the building was closed, they reached out to teacher Karen Heathcock to restart a morning news show.

“We’re doing this to help kids through all of this,” said Reid Strassheim, a fifth-grader. “So they are part of Stone-Robinson even though they are at home.”

For weeks during the school shutdown, Reid and other fifth-graders anchored a daily news program complete with tips, recipes and birthday shoutouts. The videos are available to all students at Stone-Robinson through the school system’s learning management system, SeeSaw.

Students involved said the show has helped their peers and themselves deal with ending the school year at home, giving them something different to look forward to.

“It makes it easier to adjust to being home all the time,” said fifth-grader Audrey Ishler. “I’m home, but I’m still there in a way.”

The group aired its final show on May 22, after a week of honoring the graduating fifth-graders. Every show last week featured tributes from teachers about the class.

Students met weekly with Heathcock, the gifted-resource teacher at Stone-Robinson, to plan the next week’s show. They shared fun facts and activities that students can do at home in addition to segments on sports and the weather — all with an eye on making the show accessible for students of all grade levels.

“We want the kids to be part of it,” said Audrey, who did a weekly feature sharing an activity or craft that students could do.

For Mother’s Day, she taught the school how to make a homemade sugar scrub.

Reid, inspired by the school’s P.E. teacher, pitched a weekly cooking demonstration. He tested the recipes out with his sister before videotaping his segment. The taping involved a couple of takes and 30 minutes the day before, he said.

“You want it to be perfect for the kids or as good as it’s going to get,” Reid said.

Heathcock posted the videos by 8 a.m. daily after compiling the different segments in iMovie.

“We’re up to an eight- to nine-minute news show,” said Heathcock. “It started at a minute or two. It has grown as it gained in popularity.”

On Tuesdays, fifth-grader Gianna Tringali gave students health and safety tips, such as explaining the difference between sunblock and sunscreen. Her sister helped out, as well.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Gianna said.

During a weekly editorial meeting earlier this month, the students chatted about what was going well so far and what they could improve. In the final weeks of the school year, Reid and others wanted to find ways to involve younger students.

Other students pitched in. A kindergartner did the Pledge of Allegiance each morning and others provided weather updates.

“The feedback has been positive,” Heathcock said. “The kids feel like they are part of a community again. It brings the school together.”


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