Two editors sat in front of a bank of video monitors near the control panel, watching two cameramen roll video cameras into position. The newscasters the talent, according to the week's assignment board waited patiently for the morning's broadcasting to begin.
Scott Trimble called to a co-worker poised beside a graphic board that read Miller Creek's Happy Birthdays.
"Shaun, are you Vanna?" Trimble asked incredulously. "Are you going to be Vanna?"
Shaun Salari grinned and nodded.
Marilyn Goudeau looked over. "You're going to be Vanna? OK, lots of wiggle, lots of smile."
Whereupon Shaun, whose Vanna White-like job would entail uncovering a slot on the graphic board to reveal the name of a birthday celebrant, wiggled and did his own version of the moonwalk.
The anchorman was at a student council meeting. His replacement opened the show with the basic introduction and added, "and I'm Kyle. Just kidding. I'm Andrew."
Just kidding. He's really Matt.
Welcome to the morning news, Miller Creek School style.
clockwise from upper-left TV monitor: Nick Kuminoff, Matt Deems, Marilyn Goudeau, Scott Trimble, Matt Haar. January 1990.
If you think these seventh-graders are entirely too relaxed putting together the news in their advanced communications class, think again.
"You would think kids this age would be way too loose about it, but if anything they're way too tight," said Goudeau, the teacher and driving force behind the school's broadcast program: "What's Up Broadcasting," a weekly news show put on by sixth-graders, and other programs.
"I have to tell them to relax and have fun. They've really bought into excellence in their technique."
And for good reason. The morning news is Miller Creek's video version of homeroom announcements, broadcast in every classroom. This day's headlines included seventh-grade wrestling, sixth-grade homeroom volleyball, a congratulations to homerooms with no overdue books and messages from teachers.
There definitely is pressure to get it right.
"You mess up," Goudeau said, "and you have 400 kids saying, 'Why'd you do that?'"
A weekly interview show, "Options," airs on Viacom Channel 36, and the student interviewers have discussed careers with doctors, lawyers, detectives, local and state politicians.
The students do it all. They create the computer graphic logos for the programs. The theme song one year this is the first year of a seventh-grade advanced class, but "What's Up Broadcasting" has been around for eight years was written by a student.
Jobs rotate. One week you're an anchor, the next perhaps an audio technician, then maybe a gaffer / grip, an engineer / editor, director or graphics person.
"The kids really get turned on to this," said principal Linda Sheppard. "They love the technical aspect, and they teach each other." Last week's audio technician teaches this week's, who teaches next week's, and so on.
Twelve-year-old Nick Kuminoff, this week's feature interviewer, typifies the enthusiasm generated by the class. He particularly relishes the technical and on-camera aspects.
"I've wanted to do this ever since I was real little," he said. "My uncle had a camcorder when they first came out, and we made home movies adventure movies. And I've always wanted to be on TV, like in news, and just be myself."
©1990 Marin Independent Journal