GRANDVIEW — Every afternoon at Smith Elementary School, four fifth-graders huddle around a microphone to record “The Morning Show.”
Their produced take on the otherwise bland routine of morning intercom announcements involves sound effects, ad libbed jingles, fun facts and giggling — lots and lots of giggling from friends Bryce Delarosa, Julia Sanchez, Bella Arriaga and Elias Villa.
“Sometimes they’re just laughing, having so much fun getting creative,” said Erik Hildahl, the school counselor who has experience with music recording and production. “They just get pumped. It’s really fun to watch. It reminds me of being that age.”
But the end result is a version of morning announcements that students and teachers will actually listen to at 8:40 the next morning when Hildahl holds the school intercom microphone up to his Macintosh speakers.
Last year, Smith elementary students, like kids at most schools, read scripts in a stumbling, barely decipherable monotone. Principal Jared Lind knew no one was listening.
“The goal was to communicate, but we weren’t doing it well,” Lind said with a laugh.
The pre-recorded polished versions with careful enunciation and dramatic inflection are a different story.
“I think people hear it now,” Lind said. “It’s kind of our kids taking pride in some of the jobs they have here at school.”
The four students feel that pride.
“It gives me an opportunity to talk to the whole school and tell them what’s going on,” Sanchez said.
A couple years ago, Hildahl used a small grant to purchase some simple equipment and the Macintosh music production software Garage Band to record Schoolhouse Rock-style songs that extolled the virtues of responsibility, respect and standing up to bullies.
The songs weren’t very popular, so he switched to weekly profiles about students “Caught Being Good,” a program used in many schools that gives public shout outs to kids who help others. For example, the Jan. 8 “Caught Being Good” profile tells the story of a student who held the door open for a teacher with her hands full. The school plays those recordings at assemblies.
The four students who record “The Morning Show” call themselves the News Team. They gather for about 20 minutes each day after school in Hildahl’s office, a room small enough to be mistaken for a storage closet with windows, throw pillows and posters with inspirational sayings.
The kids take turns sharing upcoming events, weather, birthdays, the lunch menu and, new to the mix, sports. Between each item, they throw in fun facts, while Hildahl splices in sound effects and pre-recorded jingles, most of which the students made up themselves. Those explain a lot of the giggling.
The show always ends with a patriotic score and one of the young DJs saying, “Stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.”
Teachers take over from there.
• Ross Courtney can be reached at 509-930-8798 or firstname.lastname@example.org.