Ardmore Middle School is more up to speed than ever, thanks to a group of students who’ve started reporting the news.
A group of about 15 kids put together weekly broadcasts, known as AMS News at Noon, complete with event coverage, sports and the weather. Students take cameras to events, film them for later use, then bring the footage to club sponsor Mark Smithey, who edits them together with the broadcast segments and voiceovers. Smithey said the club grew out of a pre-AP science class project he assigned. The students created a video parodying Family Feud as a study guide for other classes, then found themselves motivated to make more videos.
“We filmed it on someone’s cellphone set on a music stand, on top of a desk,” Smithey said. “Then we turned the smart board into a green screen, which didn’t work very well.”
Now, the club has a real green screen and a DSLR camera. Each broadcast is about 15 minutes long, with three or four segments, but the runtime will likely get longer as more and more students, faculty and staff approach the crew with story ideas. Smithey said they’re considering creating a one-page newsletter and possibly even a digital radio station. Smithey said if interest continues to grow, the club could become a mass communications department.  
“It was going to start as just a film club,” Smithey said. “It turned into this within about a week. It’s going to be a lot of work, and I have to make sure we don’t get sued, but we’re hoping we can open it up for sponsorships.”
Smithey and co-sponsor Melissa Shetterly bought most of the equipment the club uses. Shetterly writes the scripts, making the segments into a cohesive whole. The script stays in a Google Doc students can access and make adjustments to throughout the week. For a teleprompter, they put the script into slideshow mode and click through.
“This has all been brand new,” Shetterly said.  
For the moment, Smithey uses Open Shot and Audacity, two free editing programs, to create the broadcasts. Smithey said he’ll eventually teach video editing as well.
“Anything we can find free, we use,” Smithey said. “I want them to be able to learn how to use it, then go home and not have to worry about the money, so they can do stuff on their own.”
Weather reporters Ally Potts and Genesis Salinas said they quickly got over the initial awkwardness of speaking on camera.
“At first I wanted to work behind the scenes,” Salinas said. “Then, Mr. Smithey said I could be a good weather person.”
Kayden Blansett and Dylan Moen both said they wanted to cover sports from the beginning.
“I’ve just kind of been here since week one,” Moen said. “It was a smaller group to start off, maybe a handful of people, but it’s really grown.”
The staff has grown from about five to 15 since the broadcasts started. Jocelyn Smith and Ray Jose, who serve as news anchors, said the group is only growing and the broadcasts are only improving.
“It was very crude in the beginning,” Jose said. “It was just a whiteboard and a desk. Now, we have all this technical stuff, green screen and voiceovers.”
Some students prefer to avoid the limelight. Nichole Gould, Hannah Wieburg, Alex Gardner,  Damion Libby and Emily Swanson provide voiceovers. Libby and Gould, among others, said their real interest is learning to edit video, something Smithey is planning to start teaching them.
“It’s fun being on camera, but we get to just tell them the information,” Wieburg said. “It’s just really cool to not have to be on camera. We get to focus on the story.”
Broadcasts are shown on closed circuit television at the school every Thursday at noon.