Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Dear Me:

It was an assignment I looked forward to, and dreaded at the same time.  One week ago, I was sent to North Schuylkill Elementary in Fountain Springs.  Even though it was my first time here, soon to be graduating seniors were carrying on their tradition of going back to their elementary school, to receive, and then read letters written to themselves when they were in sixth grade.

It was a great concept, but it was scheduled to start at 9:30 am, and it was more than an hour's drive back to the station.  I really wanted the story to appear on our noon broadcast.  Logistics and the clock were not my friend.  It smelled like it was going to be a rush job.  The story deserved more than that.

Photographer Corey, assignment editor Lindsey, and I came up with a plan.  We would take one of our satellite trucks, with editing capability inside.  We'd do the story.  I'd write and edit in the truck, saving the trip back to the office.  More on that later.

As for the story itself-- it was great.  The kids were friendly, respectful, and well spoken.  The seniors showed up in caps and gowns.  Elementary school students lined the hallways to congratulate the seniors on completing their mission.  Great pictures.

Photographer Corey chose a senior to wear a wireless microphone.  As luck would have it, she wants to be a sports broadcaster, and was very comfortable on camera.  The kid has a future.

I chose another to read his letter on camera.  He listed his favorite TV shows, and it included Newswatch 16.  I didn't believe him, so I looked at the letter written in 2011, and there is was.  This kid was chosen completely at random, and he was fantastic.

After a couple more interviews, and more video, it was back to the truck.  Corey drove north as I fired up my laptop and started banging out the sentences.  I finished around Humboldt, so we pulled over into a Turkey Hill lot.  I recorded my voice track, matching words to video.  I then handed off to Corey who matched video to words.  Yes, it did have some "rush" elements, but overall, I was very happy with the product.  Judging by the social media comments, you liked it, too, and I appreciate that.  We transmitted the video back to the station with about ten minutes to spare.

As I was at North Schuylkill, I thought of what I would have written at the end of 6th grade.  If anyone read it back then, I likely would have been headed for some counseling.  6th grade was one of my worst.  My grades were great, and don't ask me how I accomplished that.  I was in a school I hated, in a town I didn't like, with a teacher I despised.  Other than that, it was great.

Good luck graduates.  I hope you enjoyed your little look back, but focus on the future.  Be well.