By Starrla Cray
DELANO, MN They may have different classes, interests, and goals, but Delano Middle School students have one shared delight: The Growl.
“Fifth through eighth graders don’t do a lot of things together, and this unites us,” commented eighth-grader Kayla Shelley.
By students, for students, The Growl is a monthly news broadcast featuring middle school events, students, and faculty.
It airs on all the TVs at school, and can be viewed anytime online through the Delano Middle School website.
“This is our second year,” said Gwen Briesemeister, Delano’s gifted/talented coordinator. “It’s a valuable experience for the students, and we hope to continue it for years to come.”
Briesemeister, who led a similar effort several years ago, jumped at the opportunity to revive the program.
At first, The Growl was limited to seventh- and eighth-grade students, but this year, fifth- through eighth-graders can all contribute.
“We try to get as many kids in front of the camera as possible,” Briesemeister said. “That way, it appeals to all the students, not just those who are in The Growl.”
Students who want to be involved in filming, editing, interviewing, and other aspects of production fill out an application at the beginning of the school year. Participants are chosen based on their answers and writing ability.
The Growl’s core group was limited to about 55 students this year, but Briesemeister said she’d like to offer the volunteer program to all interested students someday.
“The main purpose is to promote a community feeling in the building, and develop an interest in what everyone else is doing,” Briesemeister said. “A great offshoot of that is the speaking and writing skills that students develop.”
In fifth and sixth grade, students meet once a week for about 30 minutes. The older students meet twice a week, during their study period.
Learning with laughter
“It’s a really good experience, and it’s fun to be able to do all these things,” commented eighth-grader Anna Lundquist. “I tried it with friends last year, and ended up really liking it.”
Shelley said she joined The Growl because she’s enjoyed having Briesemeister as a teacher in the past.
“I knew that anything she came up with would be fun,” she said.
Fellow eighth-grader Sophie Boisvert is also in her second year of The Growl. Like many of the students, her favorite segment is “Song of the Month.”
Different music is selected for each show, and is played while students provide entertainment.
“I try to let them have their own personality and own spin on it,” Briesemeister said.
For the most recent “Song of the Month,” Shelley meshed 10 songs to create a remix.
“I think that The Growl is a great experience for anyone,” she said. “You learn a lot about technology, which is becoming more and more important.”
Students typically gravitate toward certain aspects of production, but everyone takes turns learning new tasks.
For Shelley, working behind the scenes is fun, despite deadline pressure.
“It can be stressful trying to get it done, but it pays off when teachers and students say they really like what you did with a segment,” she said.
She also enjoys anchoring, a position that is filled by two different seventh- and eighth-grade students every month.
Nine to 14 stories are aired for each 15-minute show, featuring anything and everything that goes on at Delano Middle School, such as academic projects, fundraising opportunities, and school festivities.
One segment, “Survey Circle,” gives students a chance to weigh in on topics like “top jeans for girls,” “most popular video games,” “favorite lunch,” and more.
“We get fifth through eighth grade involved,” Shelley said. “We find out what all they like and what they want reported.”
To view The Growl, follow the link on the Delano School District website.