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Robert Frost fifth-graders get newsroom experience through FrosTV

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The second season of FrosTV kicked off today, giving the students and staff at Robert Frost Elementary a glimpse of the latest news and highlights across the school community.

Friday’s segment featured interviews with kindergarteners; highlighted lessons in different classrooms; captured footage of the first meeting of the school’s running team, Fit Frosties; and gave shout outs to those doing good deeds including Westerville North High School’s boys soccer team who volunteered to help clear up the school’s gardens. 

The eight-person crew behind the entire production — which includes producers, anchors, reporters and photojournalists — are all fifth-graders. 

“I hope people get excitement and joy when they watch it,” said Ilyas Mohamed, who served as one of the two photojournalists on this week’s production.

Fifth-grade teacher Nate Van Sickle launched FrosTV last spring, drawing on his experiences from his previous career to manage the weekly segments with students. Van Sickle worked in television news, including WBNS-10TV, for a decade before becoming a teacher.

And he operates FrosTV much like a newsroom. Each show kicks off with a “staff meeting” during lunch, where students discuss story ideas. They spend several days crafting a script, gathering video and conducting interviews. The anchors record the show from Van Sickle’s room, using his video display as a teleprompter. He edits the combined footage for the final production, which is distributed each Friday in lieu of morning announcements in each classroom.

“The kids work so hard on the show,” he said. “I love that they are so engaged in the process and interested in being a part of creating a positive culture in our school.” 

Being part of the show is a coveted role among students: More than 50 fifth-grade students — roughly 75% of all the school’s fifth-graders — applied to be part of the news team this year. All of them will be able to participate as Van Sickle rotates a new production team each week. 

Fifth-grader John Tubaugh, who served as producer this week, said he wanted to join because he enjoyed editing videos on his own. With this week’s show, he interviewed the school’s PTA president to promote the group’s upcoming family event. 

“Now I like reporting and editing things,” he said. 

Principal Sarah Berka has been thrilled by the response from students and staff to FrosTV.

“It provides our oldest students a choice to participate in a real-life enrichment opportunity while including our entire building in the process as they interview and highlight news stories pertinent to our community,” she said. 

And it also aligns with the district’s Portrait of a Graduate work, providing students an opportunity to apply the skills they learn in the classroom such as communication, collaboration and adaptability. 

“Whether or not they want to be in the business in the future, they are learning interviewing, communication skills,” Van Sickle said. “They are out of the classroom, meeting with teachers and younger students. These are great life skills to have.”