BY KAREN CAMPBELL
Weakley County Schools Communications Director
MARTIN (September 13) – Each morning the Martin Middle School library takes on the look and feel of a newsroom as Stephanie Virgin’s enrichment class gathers, writes, produces, and publishes “news for you, by you” for their fellow students.
Last year marked the first regular “on air” broadcasts by the then Publications (now A/V) Club. This year, Virgin, who serves both as librarian, Response to Instruction and Intervention (RTI) enrichment teacher and the school’s website manager, decided to integrate her roles and offer the students several platforms to share their MMS News.
Student reporters form teams in the early morning RTI class and follow a daily schedule of determining their subject matter, explained Madi Adcock, Chloe Davidson and Alex Belew in a short interview that reversed the roles and had them answering questions about their new communications ventures.
Mondays and Tuesdays are focused on interviewing. Wednesdays and Thursdays they write and edit. Fridays are for final adjustments, printing and distribution. With the addition of making the news available online at mms.weakleyschools.com, the multimedia reporters are growing their audience from those stopping by the bulletin board to retrieve a print version to family members being able to read at home.
Selected stories are then recorded in the studio that Virgin has steadily equipped for video production. Soon, these broadcasts will be available both on social media and the website’s Charger Channel.
Belew points out the experience is helping to develop “skills you don’t normally learn in class.” And Davidson adds that those skills will be useful later in life.
“It’s fun,” acknowledges Adcock. “I like making something that other people are going to see.”
Davidson’s favorite part is the interaction.
“I like interviewing people and hearing their opinions and what they think about a certain topic,” she said, adding that it’s even better when they don’t agree with her own.
Virgin notes that along with developing as writers, the news reporters are also adding to their knowledge of technology as they record their interviews, key in their notes on laptops, share files via Google Docs and other apps, and, eventually, help post on the website.
Topics thus far have included sports, club happenings, school events, feature stories and sharing the results of impromptu opinion surveys. Belew says looking ahead, he thinks capturing stories about Christmas will be fun and Davidson is excited to hear what her fellow students think about Halloween.
Adcock said she likes the stories such as the current piece she and fellow team members Olivia Moore, Lauren Gardener, and Elliot Freeman did on key staff that aren’t always noticed.
“I loved what I saw last year and looked forward to each video broadcast going online,” observed Donald Ray High, Instructional Supervisor for Weakley County’s middle and high schools. “I applaud Stephanie Virgin for building on that success and continuing to innovate. Not only are our students capturing memories for themselves and their friends; they are offering the public a window into the middle school experience.”