DAWSONVILLE — “Good morning, Black’s Mill Elementary,” anchors Shanna Morgan and Emma Walls said in unison during WBME’s daily video broadcast last month.
The girls are among more than a dozen fifth-graders who skip recess each day to prepare for the next day’s morning announcements that are filmed live and shown in every classroom.
The Dawson County students research the news and weather, write the scripts, set up the cameras, cue the lighting, run the computers, man the sound and do whatever it takes to produce the show every morning.
“It’s like a job for them,” said Suzanne Smith, the school’s technology teacher. “They do all of the work.”
While there is no physical pay at the end of the long week, the young broadcasters receive plenty of perks, including a statewide award they will receive at the Dawson County Board of Education meeting Jan. 11.
Black’s Mill is one of five Georgia elementary schools to receive the Georgia Association of Elementary School Principal’s School Bell Awards, which were presented at the group’s fall conference in November in Savannah.
Given to schools with outstanding programs in the areas of curriculum and organizational leadership, the award recognizes the unique opportunity students have to gain true broadcast experience that could help them in making a career choice later in life.
“These are children that are interested in this type of job or a field that’s out in the public,” Smith said. “The ones (who) are in this have said they’ve wanted to do it since kindergarten.”
Students are selected based on their grades and must have a recommendation from their teacher.
“We are so proud of them,” Smith said. “They’re so much fun, so energetic and creative.”
Mount Vernon Exploratory School in Gainesville also earned a School Bell Award for its charter initiative. The school’s “Project-Based Learning 21st Century,” was credited with the award and recognized Nov. 9 at GAESP’s conference.
Dawson County schools received a total of three awards during the conference. In addition to the Bell Award, the parent/teacher organization at Black’s Mill received the Patron Award that is given to outstanding educational supporters. Riverview Elementary Principal Julia Mashburn was recognized with one of the five Distinguished Principal Awards.