School news show connects Kirkland Lake students during pandemic
TIMMINS -- After wrapping up her online learning for the day, Kirkland Lake District Composite School (KLDCS) student Molly McCormack sets up her camera and her teleprompter then takes a seat at her anchor desk to film the daily newscast that her fellow students will see the next morning.
Behind the scenes, classmate Joe Mcinnis is the "editing wizard," student Shaylan Pratt assistant produces and technology teacher Dan Kurz guides the project, with more students joining each day.
Together, they make "KLDCS TV," in an effort to keep their classmates informed about their school while they’re at home during the COVID-19 pandemic — and to share stories of how students are coping with this new reality.
"What makes it interesting is that it’s sort of documenting the human experience that we’re all going through, through this time of crisis," says Kurz.
"Seeing how people are making do [...] and hopefully bringing us together a little bit."
The project started as a way to test the students’ video production skills after a provincial competition was cancelled in response to the pandemic.
Kurz arranged a safe way to give them the equipment needed to film and edit the show, with all of them collaborating from their homes and sharing their work online.
McCormack, Joe Mcinnis and Shaylan Pratt collaborate online with teacher Dan Kurz to put the show together. (Sergio Arangio/CTV News Northern Ontario)
They upload their news show to YouTube each weekday morning, featuring daily announcements, updates from teachers, interviews with students and segments like "Maker’s Corner," which gives a glimpse at creative projects students create to pass the time.
Before the switch to online learning on April 6, McCormack says the uncertainty surrounding school left her restless and itching for something to do.
Now as the chief correspondent for KLDCS TV, she sees it as an opportunity to entertain and inform her community during this confusing time, while keeping her school’s spirit alive.
"I think it’s made me a lot happier," said McCormack.
“(I can) give out important information to students in my school and keep it all light-hearted at the same time. Getting more people interested in school again, getting more people involved to show creative stuff.”
One of the segments on KLDCS TV gives students a chance to show off their cool projects. (Courtesy KLDCS TV/YouTube)
For Joe Mcinnis, life without a normal school schedule can get boring, he says, but that having this outlet and being able to connect with his classmates in a different way makes for a good distraction from the current situation.
"It’s took my mind off of everything that’s gone on," said Mcinnis.
"I’m glad to be able to also help other people take their mind off it in the morning when they watch their news."
Kurz credits his school’s principals and District School Board Ontario North East for maintaining consistent communication between staff and students during a confusing time.
He says technology has been key in keeping everyone connected and has blurred the traditional borders of school. He says he looks forward to seeing how students and teachers continue to adjust to the circumstances.
A goal for the school news show is to interview students about how they’re handling the pandemic. (Courtesy KLDCS TV/YouTube)
"The school culture is a pretty powerful thing ... (it’s) not something that’s contained within the walls of the building," said Kurz.
"I’ve seen our math teachers do really cool things, in terms of connecting kids together, and I think we’re going to continue to see different ways that school culture gets manifested in virtual ways."
McCormack films the news show with equipment provided by her school, including a teleprompter. (Courtesy KLDCS TV)