Nativity School KnighTV broadcast informs, builds community

Recording for the KnighTV morning announcements, Nativity seventh-grader Peyton Gillett, left, reads the special announcements for the day as Knight News anchors Landon Culler and Emmy Kopp, both seventh-graders, wait for their cue. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

by Olivia Martin
olivia.martin@theleaven.org

LEAWOOD — For decades, America’s morning routine has included a cuppa joe, a hearty breakfast and watching the morning news. That now includes the students at Church of the Nativity School here — with one exception.

These kids not only watch the morning news — they produce it.

This year, Nativity has traded its daily morning announcements via public address system for KnighTV.

What is KnighTV?

With anchors and a production crew entirely comprised of 7th- and 8th-grade students, KnighTV is Nativity’s very first video announcement program.

Every weekday at 7:30 a.m., a pair of producers and one of the 10 pairs of anchors arrive at school to film the morning’s announcements.

“It usually takes them about 15 minutes with the taping and editing portion,” said David Kearney, Nativity School principal. 

After filming, the producers upload the video to a private YouTube channel and email a link to teachers. The teachers then project the video onto their classroom SMART Board at some point in the morning.

Nativity has had no problem finding talented kids to contribute to the newscasts. 

Eighth-grader Matthew Schneerberger and seventh-graders Joseph Steven, Trevor Murphy and Max Morris are among the producers of KnighTV. 

“When Mr. Kearney made an announcement to the whole middle school about KnighTV and asked who wanted to do it,” said Steven, “I immediately signed up because I thought it would be a lot of fun. And I was right!”

For Murphy, KnighTV was a natural continuation of the education he had received in sixth grade.

“[Last year,] I was working with our sixth-grade teacher and we made a lot of greenscreen things,” he said. “Mr. Kearney recommended Max and me for KnighTV. 

“Every single kid I see now knows me as the KnighTV guy!”

Years in the making

Kearney came up with the idea for a student-produced daily video announcement years ago, but it took the right group of kids and affordable technology to make it happen.

“Our students today are so tech-savvy,” said Kearney, “and we need to provide them with as many opportunities and experiences as we can.”

And that’s exactly what Nativity has done.

With tools as commonplace as wireless internet and an iPad, KnighTV has been able to bypass the broadcasting cables, lines and specialty cameras of old.

And when Kearney stumbled upon a newscasting app called “Do lnk,” KnighTV fell into place. 

“It was very affordable. . . . Everything you see here cost less than $200,” said Kearney, gesturing to the greenscreen, lights, iPad tripod and props around the classroom that doubles as the KnighTV studio.

Educating to aspire

In addition to teaching basic video- graphy, KnighTV has been an opportunity for students to grow as individuals.

“I’ve learned to be myself,” said Olivia Oades, a seventh-grade news anchor. “When I’m filming, I’ve learned I can just be myself and I don’t have to be someone else or be perfect.”

Grace Kiewiet, also a seventh-grade KnighTV anchor, agreed. 

“If you mess up,” she said, “people don’t really care; they just kind of find it funny.”

“We really learn about leadership through this, too,” added Murphy.

Each Wednesday, KnighTV has a special feature called Working Wednesday. 

A parent or parishioner is invited onto the show to talk about his or her career and how he or she lives out the Catholic faith in the workplace. 

The students also have seen how their willingness to participate in KnighTV has encouraged other students to do so, said Schneerberger.

And they’ve seen their good example impact the younger children.

“With the little kids,” said Kiewiet, “you kind of feel like you’re leading them because you’re showing them your faith.

“At the end of the show we say, ‘Christ be our light.’ They recognize that. I’ve heard them repeat [it] in the hallways.”

From plans to join high school newspaper staff to beginning to video journal, KnighTV has Nativity students looking to the future.

“When I look at high schools,” said Murphy, “I look at their photography and videography programs.”

And at the end of the day, the KnighTV crew wouldn’t have wanted to get their start in videography anywhere else. 

“We have a good community here,” said Morris, emphasizing that the support of the school is what makes KnighTV possible.

“Nativity is just a great school all around,” said Steven. “All of the teachers here are awesome — there are no exceptions to that.”

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