It's 8:15 a.m. on Sept. 27 and several St. James Academy students prepare to give the morning announcements. But instead of standing in front of a microphone in the school office, they broadcast from the school's new SJATV-Radio studio.
Announcer Jack Jankowski sits at a desk in the studio and reads over the script that producer Mark Sucoloski prepared the night before. Engineer Ethan Alexander controls an audio console and cues up the show's opening music.
All three seventh-graders rehearse several times before the show goes live, broadcast to the student body at the school in Monkton.
"Be sure to pause when you get to a period," Mark tells Jack. "Slow down. Slow down."
At 8:30, Ethan plays 15 seconds of introduction music and Jack begins to read when Mark points to him from the control room. "Good morning. This is SJATV morning update coming to you live from the SJA studio…"
Jack then gives national news about self-driving cars becoming legal in California; sports news about the end of the NFL referee strike, the Orioles' 12-2 win; and St. James girls soccer team's loss to Hereford Middle School.
Each show features two students who stand in front of microphones next to Jack. Today, Cailyn Connor, a third-grader, recites the school prayer and sixth-grader Isa Keetley says the Pledge of Allegiance and the school's honor code.
Ethan then plays 30 seconds of today's patriotic song, "God Bless the USA." He has at least 20 patriotic songs he can choose from, but said today's pick is his favorite.
The broadcast, which has lasted about six minutes, ends with a weather report.
"The hardest part for me is getting the cues right and trying not to get my tongue twisted when I talk," Jack said. "This is such a great studio. It has so many possibilities."
The studio opened last year. It is scheduled to be upgraded to include a television station this school year, said technology teacher Joe Edel.
Edel sponsors an after-school club to teach interested students the ins and outs of radio. Three students at a time each have two-week stints in the studio.
As producer, Mark wrote the script last night and emailed it to Edel and the other two students at 8 p.m. He prints it out, and the next day, Jack adds the weather and overnight sports scores.
The three boys like to broadcast on Fridays because they said they find weird news and they open the show with music from the movie, "Rocky."
"We really like doing radio, but it will be even better when we get television going," Mark said. "We're having fun, but we're learning a lot, too."