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Redwood City school wins Kent Award: Roosevelt Elementary after-school program began three years ago
April 14, 2014, 05:00 AM By Angela Swartz Daily Journal

Angela Swartz/Daily Journal
Students at Roosevelt Elementary School set up for filming of the award-winning program Pencil Box News.

“Lights, camera, action,” says a fifth-grader at Roosevelt Elementary School who is part of the now award-winning Pencil Box News.

The multi-media broadcast includes 12 students in fifth- through eighth-grade and the after-school program recently won a Kent Exemplary Program Award. Students at the Redwood City school develop global awareness, literacy and technology skills, as well as the 21st century skills of collaboration, presentation, creativity, problem solving, critical thinking and decision-making, by creating a weekly news program, the award states.

“It’s collaborative,” said Principal Trish Girardi. “They help each other mic up. It’s not just ‘I just write an article on my own’ type of thing. They use 21st century skills of collaboration.”

After the 2010 San Bruno Pacific Gas and Electric explosion and fire, Roosevelt teacher Jason Williams found that many of his students didn’t know what was going on in the world.

“I started asking current event questions and they didn’t have any idea about what was going on,” he said.

Students asked if they could film Williams, who teaches fifth-grade and advises them, on his iPhone when he shared current events with them. They then asked to create a news program. They went from using a digital camera to a flip camera to their current digital single-lens reflex camera. Additionally, students now have a green screen, laptop for editing clips with iMovie, microphones, high-tech lighting and other materials. The website Donors Choose helped the school raise money for the camera and laptop. Williams paid for much of the equipment out of his own pocket, while the parent teacher association helped with other costs.

“They learned how to use the equipment,” Girardi said. “Some didn’t know how to type when they first started.”

Now, students meet 2:30 p.m.-4 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays. On Mondays, they research and write about interesting stories to cover from all news media sources, such as the Internet, TV, newspapers and radio. Students are motivated by a desire to share their stories on film, the students strive to write about the most exciting and intriguing news stories they can find. Then, on Wednesdays, students film their stories in one-minute segments. Students cover four beats — local news, national news, world news and news at the school. There are two to three kids per beat and they cycle through beats.

One student named Mariah said she enjoys the program because it helps her keep up with the latest news, something she didn’t do before she started.

“I don’t have to be like ‘that happened?’” she said. “I also like coming after school to film.”

Two other students, Julianna and Denise, said they like to search for articles and see what’s going on around the world. Juliana wants to be a news reporter when she grows up.

The program helps with student confidence, Girardi said.

“Students are more self-assured and willing to take risks,” she said. “It’s improved their writing and awareness of things going on around them.”

Students take on the roles of directors, producers, filmers, production assistants, set dressers, script supervisors and other positions.

The San Mateo County School Boards Association, representing 22 school districts, the San Mateo County Community College District, and the San Mateo County Office of Education, gives awards to outstanding and innovative programs either in or outside the classroom as well as district-wide programs. Applicants must demonstrate their programs promote student success, employ a high degree of creativity and demonstrate transferability. Named after the past San Mateo County superintendent of schools, J. Russell Kent, the association initiated the Kent Award Program in the 1980-81 school year.

The Kent Awards ceremony will be 6 p.m. May 19 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Foster City. Social hour and musical performance — by the San Carlos School District Tierra Middle School Jazz Band and Swing Sisters Jazz Choir — will begin at 6 p.m. with dinner and the awards ceremony to follow at 7 p.m. At the ceremony, 15 other award winners will be honored.

Cxheck out the program’s videos at

(650) 344-5200 ext. 105



Tags: students, school, program, other, camera, award,

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