On the Air: A Student's Dream FulfilledOctober 4, 2006 | Anthony Bencivenga
This is the fourth post in a series on student television broadcasts and how such programs foster students' academic and social and emotional development. Visitors may want to read the previous posts first:
Over the years, every student who asked to be a part of Ben Franklin Broadcast News (BFBN) has been given the opportunity. Children with special needs have been especially eager to participate. They thrive in a learning environment that offers opportunities to emphasize their strengths. Broadcasts have been aired with closed captioning for the hearing impaired (signed by students), and children with Down syndrome have been anchors and reporters.
Each year, students work with parents to produce one of the morning shows. The parents recognize the rigor of the process and the way in which BFBN exemplifies the school's commitment to nurturing the social and emotional growth of their children. BFBN reflects the effective integration of academic skills and a loving, caring, and supportive school community.
There was an eighth grader, Greg, who had a difficult time expressing his thoughts and ideas. Nevertheless, he wanted so much to be an anchor on the show. He often told us about his dream; still, he recognized his limitations. Although he knew we would support his wish to anchor, Greg was hesitant to take the leap. It seemed as if he knew that his dream might remain unfulfilled.
One morning, Greg arrived in the studio much earlier than usual. He took me aside and placed a piece of paper in my hand. He had written three sentences -- three wonderful sentences. It was the opening to the show that he thought he might be able to read as a co-anchor. He thought that if he could read his opening, he might be able to go on and read some of the scripted announcements for the day.
As you might guess, my joy was overwhelming. I gave him a resounding "Yes!" and we quickly informed everyone that we needed to make some changes to the day's broadcast. We announced that Greg would co-anchor. Although everyone was surprised, they were also happy to see Greg take such a courageous step.
As air time approached, he settled into his seat at the anchor desk, and the countdown was announced: "Five, four, three, two, one . . ." Greg was on the air, and he spoke his words. He was magnificent. He performed flawlessly. As the closing music and credits faded, the floor manager gave the "All clear" announcement, and the students erupted in applause for Greg. I have never forgotten that morning. Most of all, however, I hope Greg still remembers his truly shining moment.