by Moira Cullings
OVERLAND PARK — The eighth-grade class at Holy Cross School here closed out a major chapter in their lives after graduating on May 14.
But they had one more assignment left to do, and it brought them back to the school one week later.
They were invited to be guests of the last live morning broadcast of the year — a program they created that was inherited by the class that will succeed them.
The video announcements served as a way for the eighth graders to take on a leadership role and bring the student body together in an innovative way.
“Our tradition for our school has been that we pray together in the morning, and we pray together in the afternoon every day,” said Anne Anderson, instructional technology coordinator and library media specialist at Holy Cross.
“But it’s been over the intercom,” she said. “And because we had so many remote learners, we wanted to include them in that. That’s when we started our live broadcast.”
The students launched the broadcast during Catholic Schools Week this year. Since then, the morning broadcasts were live, and afternoon announcements were prerecorded.
Each morning broadcast included announcements, prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance, a weather report, a joke of the day and even some dancing. On Fridays, a special guest joined in.
A core group of eighth graders was heavily involved with the program.
“I wanted a fun way to interact with the school and with the online learners as well,” said Erin Chuma. “The experience was amazing. I just loved it so much.”
Chuma said broadcasting helped her and her peers improve their social interactions. Abril Pinela agreed.
“We all got comfortable with the camera and talking in front of a large crowd — the whole school,” said Pinela, who started out as a guest and decided to take on a permanent role.
“I noticed how fun it is to be on the screen and be able to work with all these amazing people,” she said.
Lucas Frias, who learned virtually for about three-fourths of the school year, watched the broadcast each morning from home. When he returned to school, he wanted to be part of the new tradition.
Frias handled the technical side of things, wrote the script and monitored the teleprompter — which he set up on an old television.
Allie Morfeld also enjoyed working on the technical aspect of the broadcast.
“I thought it was a way to have fun in the morning but to also interact with people and to learn more about audio and tech,” she said.
Cooper Cahalan said the work he and his peers put into broadcasting was worth it and something they looked forward to each day.
Although the group is now moving on from Holy Cross, all are heading to Catholic high schools in the fall, where Anderson believes they are “going to do such big things.”
“The creative energy from this group of kids and [how they didn’t] give up because of COVID [was inspiring],” she said.
Instead of dwelling on the negative aspects of this year, she continued, the class found ways to do things differently.
“That’s where this group has put in the time and energy and made something more of what could’ve been something we lost,” she said.
The students are grateful they made their mark on the Holy Cross community in this unique way.
“A lot of the fun parts of the school are built on tradition,” said Frias, who hopes this will be a lasting legacy at the school.
Evie Hulsey agreed.
“I’ve been here since kindergarten,” she said, “and my brother was here before me, so I got to see a lot of the traditions that Holy Cross has had.
“I’m really happy that there’s something that we can pass on.”