Catholic-school students stage high-tech morning shows - Catholic Courier
A student speaks to an adult on camera.

Frank Arvizzigno, superintendent of Catholic schools for the Diocese of Rochester, is interviewed during the Dec. 1 morning show at Irondequoit’s St. Kateri School. (Courier photo by Jeff Witherow)

Catholic-school students stage high-tech morning shows

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“Good morning, St. Kateri School, I’m Joey.”

“And I’m Ellie.”

“Please slow down and get ready for the morning show.”

Joey Schmidt and Ellie Buckler, fifth-graders at Irondequoit’s St. Kateri School, delivered these words Jan. 5 as they looked into a camera while sitting in front of a green screen.

Meanwhile, at Rochester’s Holy Cross School Jan. 4, sixth-graders Melina Sotomayor and Maley Barry took their seats at a desk, looked into the camera of a laptop computer and led the school in a morning prayer.

Joey, Ellie, Melina and Maley are among each school’s students who are using technology to enhance how morning announcements are communicated to the student body.

Aging public-address system brings changes at Holy Cross

Prior to the 2023-24 school year, morning announcements at Holy Cross were made from the school’s main office using the building’s aging public-address system. Over the past year, many teachers reported that they could not hear the announcements in their classrooms, noted Sister of Mercy Laurie Orman, the school’s dean of instruction.

With this in mind, Sister Orman decided it was time for a change using technology found right in classrooms, namely interactive whiteboards and Google Classroom, which offers online tools for teaching and learning.

That idea laid the foundation for what has become the “Holy Cross Morning Show.” Two sixth-grade students sit at a desk with a laptop computer each morning and read the announcements in the style of television news anchors. An interactive whiteboard with various graphics is used as a backdrop, and the laptop serves as a camera. Teachers log into Google Classroom at 8:05 a.m. and project the show on the interactive whiteboards in their classrooms.

The show features the Pledge of Allegiance, a morning prayer, the lunch menu, birthdays, CYO and local sports scores, and even riddles. While Sister Orman prepares the script for the students, the kids assist by making the graphics and finding riddles to share. The sixth-grade students rotate their roles each week. Sister Orman said even if they aren’t involved in the show for a particular week, they watch from behind the camera to support their classmates.

“I’m just really proud of them,” she said. “They just ran with it and have really taken responsibility for it.”

All grade levels involved in St. Kateri’s morning show

Like Holy Cross, St. Kateri formerly used its public-address system for morning announcements. When Principal Anthony Reale took the reins in the fall of 2023, he decided to re-create his former school’s morning show, which he said had been a “huge success.”

At first, Reale used a laptop and microphone at St. Kateri, but with help from his son, who suggested an old camera from home, and streaming software from the diocesan Information Technology Department, Reale was able to build a setup using a green screen, camera and microphone.

The 5- to 7-minute show features two fifth-grade news anchors who lead the school in the Pledge of Allegiance and morning prayer. There also is a weather segment, for which the fourth-grade class is responsible, and a news segment Reale prepares.

Third-grade students hold up the cue cards, and jokes are shared on “Witty Wednesday.” Some kindergarten, first- and second-grade students take turns coming in to close out the show by saying, “Today is a great day to walk with Jesus.”

The students alternate roles every three weeks. “My favorite part is that everyone gets to join,” said Anna Steelman, a St. Kateri fifth-grade student and show participant.

The show is livestreamed in classrooms via YouTube, which also makes it available for parents to watch at home.

“They (the parents) feel like the energy has totally changed and that it’s a different school,” Reale said of parents’ reactions to the show.

An episode of St. Kateri School’s Morning Show was featured in the 2023 Advent calendar.

The reaction

Teachers at both schools also have been pleased with the morning shows.

“All we hear is positive things from the teachers,” Sister Orman said.

“The teachers absolutely love it. They’re all watching it,” Reale noted.

Students involved in the morning shows also are enjoying the experience.

“I like that people can actually see the words that we’re saying, and they can actually hear us,” Melina said.

“My favorite part is that I like to pretend I’m actually on the news and get to talk into a camera. It’s really exciting,” said Molly Stam, a St. Kateri fourth-grader.

Tags: Catholic Schools, Monroe County East, Monroe County West
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