Early risers practice precision

OLYMPIA - Before most of Jefferson Middle School started stirring, students Noah Bauer and Derek Caldwell were focusing the cameras and getting ready for their show of the day.

Noah, a seventh-grader, demonstrated the switches between Channel J’s two cameras and a computer monitor, and Derek, an eighth-grader, showed the main news set – a regular school desk in front of a world map, with two pieces of paper for the news anchors to hold.

“We don’t read off these,” Derek said. “They’re just so that they can have something to hold, because when they didn’t, some people would move in the chair.”

Keeping composed, sticking to an immovable deadline and working in teams are all important parts of the Channel J program, a video of Jefferson Middle School’s daily announcements that is broadcast live to all classrooms at 8 a.m. sharp.

Along with the two anchors who announce school events, the program includes a student who reads weather and sports, guests to talk about other issues, and a crew operating camera feeds and sound, creating on-screen graphics and managing each day’s script.

The shows are recorded live and re-broadcast on Thurston Community Television Channel 3 on the weekends. Except once, when the recorder was fed the wrong signal, Noah said.

“It was the perfect broadcast, and we didn’t record it,” he said.

Noah said the Channel J team recreated the broadcast for TCTV, which was the only time the team has ever pre-recorded a show.

Actually, there hasn’t been a 100 percent perfect broadcast yet, said teacher Rich Bakala, but that’s part of the process of learning.

The students meet before school because the official class for Channel J was cut this year, said Bakala, who has produced the show on and off since 1995.

He now teaches robotics during first period, with many of the students who wanted to enroll in Channel J.

However, about a month into the school year, the students offered to come in before school to produce the show.

“This is the format determined to be the most entertaining and one where kids have the opportunity to go through that teamwork,” Bakala said.

The robotics class will participate in the regional competition of First Lego League in Graham on Saturday.

However, there has been some overlap in the robotics class – Bakala said that both activities require plenty of organization, and keeping to a schedule.

“They parallel each other in the teamwork,” Bakala said.

Venice Buhain: 360-754-5445