EMAC Academy visits Cottonwood Creek, leads video workshop

By Kristen Shepard
Editor in Chief

Fifth grade students at Cottonwood Creek prepare to film their daily announcements. The EMAC Academy was able to help them improve their show. Photo by Alyssa Frost.
Fifth grade students at Cottonwood Creek prepare to film their daily announcements. The EMAC Academy was able to help them improve their show. Photo by Alyssa Frost.

At 8:57 a.m. the broadcast team is frantically setting up for their live show. At 8:58 a.m. the anchors are practicing introducing their segments. And at 9:00 a.m. the show goes live. This is not Good Morning America, this is Cottonwood Creek Elementary’s morning announcements. With a new, hi-tech broadcasting system, the students at Cottonwood Creek have revolutionized their morning announcements.

Cottonwood Creek purchased broadcasting equipment to improve its morning announcements. Among the technology purchased was an HD tri-caster that allows the director to switch between cameras smoothly during a live segment. Other electronics used included lapel microphones and a basic soundboard, both of which are important in producing the announcements.

“The amount of equipment Cottonwood has is very impressive,” Clark said. “By the time these students get to the high school, they will be even more tech-savvy than we are.”

Once traditionally conducted over the PA system, announcements were dull.  Now, Cottonwood Creek is able to broadcast the announcements via a live video stream, with students running the show.

Six members of Coppell High School’s Emerging Media and Communications (EMAC) Academy, KCBY and The Sidekick traveled to Cottonwood Creek Elementary on Friday to teach students about the field of media and communications. All of the visiting media students were impressed with the system, and how tech-savvy the Cottonwood Creek students were for their age.

EMAC students were able to lead students in an activity that would immerse the elementary school students in basic videography and teach them ways to edit and polish their footage. More so, the fifth grade students who ran Friday’s announcements were given the opportunity to participate in a critique session to help them improve their daily announcement system. These six students included seniors Trevor Stiff, Mabry Culp, Casey Klinger and juniors Braden Creel, Taylor Bryson and Marilyn Clark.

“Over the announcements, the kids announced the day’s lunch menu, tips from the school nurse and upcoming events,” Culp said. “The announcements were basically everything a Cottonwood student would need to know to get through the day.”

Following the daily announcements and critique session, students participated in a workshop led by the visiting high school students.

“We told students to come and work with [the Academy and publication students] if they were passionate about media and video making,” Principal Dr. Andra Penny said, in an information session that took place prior to the workshop. “Participation is completely voluntary, so we do not know if we will have 25 students or four students come down.”

To Penny and the EMAC Academy’s surprise, 40 students showed up for the workshop, and the impressive turnout led to an exciting and interactive workshop.

The EMAC Academy students were given the freedom to teach whatever they thought was most important for the students to know in regards to the field of media. Based on feedback from the students and their own experience, the panel of six decided to teach the seven basic shots of film, so that students could utilize wide shots and medium shots to improve their daily announcements. Students were able to practice their shots on their school issued iPads, and the academy students helped as they tried the shots out.

“Cottonwood was our first school to attend and we had such a great time helping these students improve their show, which was already very impressive,” Culp said.

With their first elementary school workshop being such a success, the EMAC Academy plans to continue offering workshops to local elementary schools. Schools that the EMAC Academy plans to visit as of today include Austin Elementary, Wilson Elementary, Pinkerton Elementary and Valley Ranch Elementary.