By Luke Hegdal
Herald staff writer
Middle school students aren't noted for paying attention to the news, unless they attend Armand Larive Middle School where they keep up to date by watching the latest broadcast of ALTV.
The weekly news program is produced, filmed, edited, and broadcast by Armand Larive students, and focuses on school news, including the current Hands off Drugs campaign.
"We go around and shoot stories as they happen," said school counselor Andy Bowers. "And we show them on Friday."
Bowers started the program a decade ago and the show broadcasts on closed circuit television from the back of the school library. About five years ago, with the help of former principal Phil Starkey, the school acquired new cameras and a Mac computer to help edit the film.
"Our whole idea with this is to make it kid-oriented," Bowers said, adding that he began ALTV to help kids who might not otherwise have a niche in the school.
Currently there are roughly 40 students that help with the broadcasts, including eight reporters, two master controllers, and two editors.
Eighth grader Pedro Velasquez is one of the ALTV anchors.
"I was a reporter in sixth grade," Velasquez said, adding that he prefers the anchor job. "I wanted to talk a lot. I get noticed."
That is a big part of what ALTV is about, according to Bowers.
"I think for a lot of the kids it's about being recognized," Bowers said. "This is one avenue for kids to get some positive recognition."
Not every student, however, is dying to get in the limelight. Students like Hunter Hughes, a sixth-grade cameraman for ALTV, are more interested in working behind the scenes.
"I just wanted to work with electronics," Hughes said. "Cameras are my favorites."
Hughes also said that there is a certain amount of pride involved with ALTV.
"You're being a part of something that's really important to the school," Hughes said. "It's kind of cool that our school that is so old has something new."
Hughes and Velasquez also said that it's nice to know that rival middle school Sandstone doesn't have a news program.
According to Bowers, ALTV also keeps kids aware of things that are going on around the school, citing the Hands off Drugs campaign as an example. ALTV also searches out other stories that may be of interest to students.
One thing that the program doesn't do, Bowers said, is poke fun at people.
"We try not to embarrass anybody," Bowers said.
If an interview goes badly, or someone makes a mistake on camera, those things get edited out of the final broadcast. The goal of the program is to be inclusive and fun for students.
"In a way, it's kind of like a club," Bowers said.
As such, the focus isn't really on developing a career path for students, though it can introduce students to new possibilities.
Hughes said that he would like to continue to work with cameras and electronics in the future. Velasquez, however, said he doesn't see anchoring news as a possible profession.
"I want to be more like the president," Velasquez said.