KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Educators are aiming to bring students real work experience at a very young age, with fifth graders at Lanier Elementary School learning how to work in the television news business.

Meet the next generation of TV journalists – they’re in front of the camera and behind it. The fifth grade WLES News Crew at Lanier Elementary in Blount County produces a newscast that is sent to classes daily.

“I felt it was kind of a challenge honestly because the whole school is watching the program so this really has to be the best, I can make it into,” Richard Newsome, a fifth-grade student, said.

In 2018, STEM teacher Renee Powell decided to make daily announcements more fun after the school’s intercom system had stopped working.

“I knew nothing about broadcasting. I knew nothing about this when I started it and it’s just been a great learning experience for me too,” Powell said.

Eventually, Powell turned a classroom into a part-time newsroom with the help of volunteers and grant money. Students go “on air,” recording newscasts for the week ahead on Thursdays after school.

“We get to be on camera, we get to show our feelings to other people, and we get to jokes and stuff and it’s really fun,” Elyse Hoover, a fifth grader, said.

Powell says students are doing most of the legwork a month into the program. The fifth graders anchor, write special segments and edit the newscast.

With this work experience, students are learning communication and technical skills – plus gaining confidence.

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“It has been amazing! I’ve seen the difference in students from being really shy to coming out blossoming,” Powell said. “I’ve seen students who are very timid about being on camera but by the end of the year, they are loving it and wanting to continue.”

There’s been a lot of student interest in WLES – with more than 40 fourth graders auditioning. Educators can only accept roughly a dozen rising fifth graders each year.