Norwood High opens communications through TV
Course provides on-air education from school studio
By Jean Fain SPECIAL TO THE GLOBE
NORWOOD-At 7:30 a.m. Katy Kai, a high school senior, pasted on a smile, folded her hands, looked straight into the camera and said, “Good morning and welcome to Norwood High School News.”
For the last four years, Norwood students have been learning what it takes to be a Bryant Gumbel or a Katie Couric in the school’s in-house television studio.
Monday through Friday, students produce a 30-minute morning news/talk show that airs in every high school homeroom and on televisions tuned to the local cable-TV education channel (Ch. 32) in Norwood and Westwood homes.
One recent telecast covered a meeting of the girls soccer team and visiting college representatives.
The station, wired to classrooms throughout the Norwood school system, also telecasts educational programs from around the world and, locally, live School Committee meetings, rallies, concerts and other special events.
The station began five years ago with a $20,000 donation from the Norwood Community Television Corp., a nonprofit board that funds local television projects. Donations from a variety of sources – federal grant town money and contributions from Cablevision of Norwood, the local cable television company -keep it running in the black. The high school recently installed 16 new television monitors with money remaining from last year’s budget.
Diana Flemer and Bob Smith, teachers and the station supervisors, teach, the how-tos of communication and Reduction in class, but during telecasts, students handle everything – cameras, lights and action.
The communications course, open to all high school students, has become so popular that it has expanded from one to four sections, with 70 students enrolled. About a dozen participate in the morning show prtfeinetion, three on-camera, the rest behind.
Exploring career options, learning new skills and working with friends are what students like best about working at the station.
“It’s been great,” Kai said, more relaxed off camera. “It really makes you think about what you want to do. Communications is high on my list.”
Co-anchor Constantino Nicolau said he likes the variety of working on and off camera. “I’ve got so many jobs,” the sophomore said. “It’s unbelievable.”
Norwood teachers recognize the station’s value in the classroom and in the community. School administrators envision the ways television technology can be used in a time of lean budgets.
“It gives the students tremendous self-confidence,” Smith said, “something they wouldn’t get in math or history class.”
Flemer said, “Any parent who watches us in the morning knows what their kids are doing or should be doing. I don’t think any parent in Norwood can legitimately say ‘I don’t know what’s going on in the high school.”
Last January, the station installed a satellite dish to receive programming via the Massachusetts Corp, for Educational Telecommunications, a state agency that transmits educational programs from 30 countries in 20 languages. About 150 Massachusetts school districts are hooked up to the educational satellite network.
Besides quality programming the technology provides a link to other students in classrooms across Massachusetts and beyond.
Principal George Usevich sees the station as a wise investment, especially in view of the recession.
“Technology will allow communities to have courses that might not fit the budget,” he said. “If you’ve’ got three towns that want to teach Latin, but can’t afford to hire a Latin teacher, they can get a TV link-up to a Latin course. You can have 100 schools and one Latin teacher.”