The music plays, opening credits roll, and the show begins:
“Welcome to PATV from home.”
The award-winning newscast prepared by and starring students of Padua Academy, the all-girls Catholic school in Wilmington, has helped to keep the school community connected as the Padua remains closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The feature, a scaled-down version of the regular in-school newscast, is offered twice weekly on PATV’s Youtube channel.
Viewers have been treated to features on cooking, fitness, pets and a Padua student who has become an accomplished figure skater. They also get a weather forecast for the day.
One of the most anticipated features is “a day in the life of a student: coronavirus edition,” where a student taking viewers on a tour of her “crib,” MTV-style.
It’s all done without the anchors and reporters being together and without the equipment they use in the classroom, where the students normally would collaborate on story ideas and deliver the program from a news set following morning prayer.
“Basically, in school for the daily show we can plan them all together in the morning and get that done, and it’s all live. At home, everything is pre-recorded at remote locations except for the two anchors,” junior Krista Kanu. “There’s kind of less communication that goes into it, but also more at the same time.”
The classroom experience likely prepared the students for this challenge of delivering a show remotely. Padua Academy Broadcast and Multimedia Journalism Instructor Dennis Leizear said the show is theirs to begin with.
“They’re producing everything. I am there to assist them with any problems they might have, but they write the scripts. They decide on what news stories they want. They do sports reports and a weather report. It’s just part of the daily routine,” Leizear said.
The decision to continue PATV with a quarantine edition was made on the first day of the initial two-week school closure in mid-March.
“They wanted to do a show. We kind of brainstormed that morning, what could a show look like when we’re not in the same place?” Leizear said.
The show is accomplished through a Google meet, with the two news anchors on the screen. Students are shooting video and segments on their phones, which are sent in for editing. Generally, PATV presents a new offering each Tuesday and Friday.
Padua senior Robin Land, who records the introductions and tries to keep in touch with everyone about what’s going onto the show, said the transition has been a challenge.
“I have to get everybody’s videos, and I have to keep communicating with them and be like ‘hey, I need your video so I can make the intro,’ and we have to agree on the same intro of what we’re going to do – which has been relatively easy, but it’s still difficult trying to keep everybody on task,” Robin said.
PATV At Home has moved away from the current events that were traditionally part of the school-based newscast. There are currently no sports reports, and coverage of theatre and musical performances are on hold until next year.
But Krista says the PATV students still collaborate on story ideas and have managed to come up with new approaches to storytelling that keep their audiences engaged and tuning in.
Tune into PATV’s May 5th broadcast (below) to see how Delaney taught her mom how to do a Tik Toc dance and catch 10 seniors who share where they plan to attend college and they’re planned course of study.
Padua Academy began its school newscast about seven years ago. It’s won the Best High School Newscast award in the Delaware Press Association High School Communications Contest five consecutive years. It will go on to the national competition hosted by the National Federation of Press Women.
Leizear said the honors are a tribute to students past and present.
“They take pride in knowing that I put pressure on them. I want them to succeed. I want them to do better. We enter a lot of contests because there’s great feedback,” Leizear said. “They’ve bought into this idea that this is what we do, this is our show and we are part of the Padua community. They didn’t hesitate at all.”
Broadcast-journalism is just one of the career paths Krista and Robin are currently considering. For now, both are glad to be helping to keep the Padua community together in some way, during a time when everyone is apart.
“A lot of teachers have reached out to us and are thanking us for keeping it going. I guess it’s one thing of normalcy,” Krista said.
Robin also felt it was important to keep PATV going in some way.
“It brings a sense of calm to the community – like everything’s going to be OK, everything’s going to stay the same – even if we’re far away from each other.”