On any given school day, East’s gym would be empty at five in the morning. No varsity point guards would rush to dribble the basketball up the court. The only movement would come from the dust-bunnies floating across the hardwood, spurred on by the drafts of the air conditioning system.
But this Friday, the gym will be full of caffeinated teenagers waving signs, chanting “bananas” and performing crazy stunts for the cameras of KCTV5’s More in the Morning news crew. Reporter and meteorologist Iris Hermosillo, along with a cameraman, will be broadcasting live until 8 a.m. as part of the “Cool School” segment of the program. Begun last August, the Cool School segment is part of an ongoing series sponsored by Wendy’s that highlights a different area high school each Friday for its nonathletic programs and achievements.
To nominate a school, students, parents or community members fill out an entry form on KCTV5’s Web site expressing why their school should be highlighted. Each week, account executive Nikki Decker and executive producer Robbyn DeSpain review submissions and select a high school. Other contending high schools for this week included Spring Hill, Kearney, and Shawnee Mission North.
East has received a variety of submissions since last October, when KCTV5 first approached Leigh Anne Neal, the district’s Director of Public Information and Communications, about a broadcast. Community members listed a wide range of qualifications in their responses, mentioning the Categories and debate teams, choir and theater departments, the different Honors Societies and the journalism program. However, it was the volunteer work of East that especially caught the attention of Decker and DeSpain.
“SHARE really sparked our interest,” Decker said. “East has a lot to offer. It has a lot of different programs to get kids involved in the community and in the school.”
This is why Hermosillo will be on location and wearing Columbia blue, black and white to capture the action of the morning’s activities. Interested parents can watch from 5-7 a.m. on KCTV5, then see the third hour on KSMO-TV.
Associate Principal Heather Royce has been in charge of planning the schedule for Friday’s broadcast in accordance with KCTV5’s timeline. There will be around seven live segments, each five to seven minutes in length. At press time, students to be featured in these segments included National Merit finalists, senior Sarah Are, who is being presented with the Prudential Spirit of Community Award for her work in Coalition, and Harbinger and Hauberk staff members. Other groups in consideration for live performances were the Choraliers, cheerleaders, Lancer Dancers, Pep Band, Martial Arts Club and theater students.
Are expects the student body to make a good impression.
“We have a lot of student leaders, and we have a ton of clubs and groups,” Are said. “There are a million ways to get involved and a million ways to be your own leader…Not everyone can be a leader, but the option is there and the support is there.”
Other components of the morning program will include a sign contest with winners receiving Wendy’s gift cards, a staff versus students Categories competition and a dodgeball showdown between the faculty and the Widowmakers, champions of the SHARE dodgeball tournament earlier this year. Additionally, the first 500 people to arrive at the gym receive free Chick-fil-A chicken biscuits.
Then in a live segment at 6:10 a.m., Mike Hotchkiss, Director of Area Operations for Wendy’s, will present the Cool Schools trophy to principal Dr. Karl Krawitz and Student Council president Joe Craig.
Craig hopes KCTV5’s viewers will be able to see another side of East.
“I want people to understand that, obviously we’ve dominated country club sports in the state of Kansas for many, many years, but that we’ve also…got really smart kids,” Craig said. “I hope people can see that..we’re more than just a country club sports powerhouse.”
Hotchkiss cites similar reasons when speaking about why Wendy’s teamed with KCTV5 to start the program.
“We thought we would take the opportunity to recognize other students that work very hard in school…but don’t get a lot of notoriety,” Hotchkiss said.
At the end of the academic year, all featured high schools will be eligible to receive a $2,500 general scholarship from Wendy’s. A school is chosen based its enthusiasm and participation during the broadcast, its school spirit and the kinds of nonathletic programs cited in its nominations. Hotchkiss, along with area Wendy’s owners Kirk Williams, Dave Merola and Mike Pollock, will make this decision, taking into account the input of Decker and DeSpain.
Pictures of the morning’s activities can be found on Facebook one-two days after the broadcast. Video is posted on KCTV5’s Web site that morning.
Royce is optimistic about how the morning will proceed.
“It’s a little bit of pride and competitiveness,” Royce said. “We want to show that we consider ourselves to be the best school in the area.”