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Mully News program provides more than school happenings

by WHITNEY ENGLAND
Whitefish Pilot | April 28, 2021 1:00 AM

A student-led daily news production called the Mully News took flight at the Muldown Elementary School this month.

Students record a video for the news show featuring the Pledge of Allegiance, weather report, what’s on the lunch menu for the day, along with other fun news or happenings going on throughout the school.

The program was most needed by certain students who were having a hard time finding a sense of purpose at school, according to Muldown behavior specialist Mandy Dobbs, and there’s been a positive shift across the entire school since it began. Along with the help of Muldown’s technology integration specialist Kate Preston, Dobbs and a core group of students implemented the new program.

The Mully News has a core group of five students that produce the news everyday, but many other kids across all grades of the school are wanting to get involved as well — so many that Dobbs says kids are filling out applications and there is a list of students just waiting for their opportunity to be on the news.

“Different kids get to come in and either read a poem or get to come be a news anchor,” she said. “Now that we have our core group we’re just kind of making it bigger and letting other kids have that opportunity to be on the news and feel that sense of purpose and the culture that we have in there, so it’s pretty cool.”

Students record the news program every afternoon and then it is uploaded to the school’s website so students, staff and parents can all access it. It is shown in all the classrooms in the morning each day on large smartboards.

Third-grader Hudson Clark, who helped found the program with Dobbs, is the main news reporter and often interviews people within the school for special reports to be included in the morning news.

The Mully News also replaces morning announcements that used to be read by a student over the loudspeakers in the school, but had to be eliminated due to COVID-19 safety precautions.

“Kids are wanting to be a part of it,” Dobbs said. “Teachers are coming and saying, hey my kids turned in applications when is it their turn — they’re just wanting to be a part of it.”

Dobbs noted that all grades are getting involved in the schoolwide program. For the kindergarten and first graders who can’t yet read as well as the older students, they can lead the school in the pledge or recite other small news items.

And the group has plans to keep expanding the news program to include more in depth reports — these reports could double as a piece for the news and also be a part of their academic learning. In addition, staff and students across the school are giving their own ideas on what to include in the Mully News.

“We’re just slowly adding more things in there; teachers have been coming up to us and giving us ideas what they’re thinking or what their kids are talking about — so it kind of feels like a whole schoolwide thing right now,” Dobbs said.

The group had to learn the technology associated with producing the program. The school ordered a green screen and the students record the news in front of it everyday with an application on a tablet. They use a laptop with the script typed on it to use as a teleprompter, but in the future they are looking into more advanced technology to show the script.

Dobbs helps come up with some of the ideas and types up the script for now, but in the future she wants it to be solely in the hands of the students.

“The point of it is so that it will be completely student run, so most of it is student run at this time,” she said.

Since the group first began recording the news at the end of March there’s been noticeable changes in the students involved as they’ve found purpose and have pride in doing a specific job daily, Dobbs notes.

“They just really needed something to help drive them in wanting to come to school and wanting to try hard,” Dobbs explained.

She said the program also gives students a break in their class schedule and engages them in a way of learning and opportunity to learn that’s not necessarily academically focused.

“It’s increasing their responsibility as students; students kind of need that just to feel that purpose and that meaningfulness,” she said.

To view the news visit https://muldown.wsd44.org/ and click on the “Mully News” tab.

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A group of students at Muldown gathers every school day at 2:30 p.m. to record the Muldown News for the following day. The student-led program launched last month at the elementary school. From left to right, Hudson Clark, Audrey Jones, Gianna Mitchell, Kaleb Stevens and Elijah Walrath. (Whitney England/Whitefish Pilot)

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Muldown News anchors Audrey Jones and Elijah Walrath deliver the news of the day which is recorded via tablet and then uploaded to the school website to be shown in every classroom the following morning. (Whitney England/Whitefish Pilot)

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Muldown News anchor Audrey Jones and special reporter Hudson Clark give a report while Kaleb Stevens records them using a tablet and Gianna Mitchell uses a laptop as a teleprompter at the elementary school on Thursday. (Whitney England/Whitefish Pilot)

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The students utilize green screen technology to appear as if they are reporting live from a real news station. Pictured is Audrey Jones and Hudson Clark.