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Londonderry fifth-graders are ready for their close-ups

Union Leader Correspondent

May 30. 2013 10:08PM
Londonderry High School junior Matt Sullivan fastens microphones to North Elementary School fifth-graders Jeffrey Wiedenfeld and Meagan Anstey inside the Londonderry Cable Access studio Thursday morning. (APRIL GUILMET/Union Leader Correspondent)

LONDONDERRY — The terms "lights, camera, action" aren't typically heard in a fifth-grade classroom, but this week's lessons weren't taught inside North Elementary School.

Early Thursday morning, bus loads of fifth-graders arrived at the Londonderry Cable Access studio for the final step in a months-long project involving children from five different classrooms.

Each spring, fifth-grade teacher Toni Carballeira offers her students a chance to experience life on camera by assigning each of them an intensive research project culminating with a live newscast.

Carballeira has been doing the annual project with local fifth-graders for well over a decade, though it's only the second year she's brought the kids into the local cable station.

Up until last year, the project was done on a much smaller scale, with district video technician John Beaulieu bringing a portable green screen to the elementary school on production day.

Bringing the children into the studio makes for a more complete experience, Carballeira said, since students get the chance to work with advanced equipment and witness the bustle of an actual studio.

"It's a huge project for them," Carballeira said. "The kids get to pick out the topics that interest them, then it's on to the research and final screening."

Beaulieu has been working closely with the students in recent weeks, explaining what to expect in the television studio on production day and assisting them in pre-recorded interviews conducted with various community members.

The experience has proven a memorable one for many, Carballeira said, since it not only helps children learn lessons about working together and conducting a successful interview but also gives them the chance to shine as individuals.

"It never gets old," she said with a laugh.

On hand to share her wisdom was Londonderry High School television production teacher Karen Robinson, who brought a dozen or so of her upper level students to help out.

Over the course of two days, the fifth-graders shadow the high school students to learn more about each student's respective role in the studio, while trying out their hands at production, camera work, lighting, sound, reporting and anchoring.

Robinson said the experience was somewhat bittersweet for her, as many of this year's high school helpers are graduating seniors.

Many will study media communications and film in college this fall, Robinson said, with student director Rachel Beaton attending Hofstra University and assistant director Sam Swinarski to attend the New England School of Communications.

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