Seniors Receive Media Credentials : Baptist High Journalists Get the Scoop on Inaugural Events

Times Staff Writer

Eric Belland, a Van Nuys teen-ager, plans to do a "stand-up commentary" on the steps of the White House.

His classmate, Patrice Tichian, said she will report from the west side steps of the Capitol, near where President Reagan will be given the oath of office. Kim Masters is in charge of what she calls a "fluff segment" about winter in Washington, D.C.

The youths, seniors from Los Angeles Baptist High School in Sepulveda, are one of two high school groups in the country who sought and received media credentials to cover the 50th inaugural ceremonies this weekend.

For the Baptist High students, what started last fall as a government class project to put together a news show with rented video equipment has snowballed.

Tonight six Baptist High seniors, camera and microphones in hand, will join the ranks of 4,000 or so American journalists from 650 news organizations who are flocking to the capital.

"It is more interesting to learn government from the people who are running it, rather than a 1965 textbook," Belland said. "If we can get the information and then pass it on to other students by our show, class will be painless."

The students' 3-month-old project, in which videotaped local news programs are produced and shown to other Baptist High classes, has already plunged the students into events such as the President's pre-election speech at Pierce College and Election Night activities at the GOP headquarters at the Century Plaza Hotel.

Government class instructor Norman Conard, who has experience with video production and assigned the communications project, suggested they consider covering the inauguration.

Thought It 'Just a Dream'

"We thought the inaugural was just a dream," said Tichian, 17, of Northridge. But, bolstered by the White House's emphasis on youth participation in the inauguration, a reflection of the support Reagan enjoyed from young voters last year, they applied.

"When we got the phone call Wednesday that we got the credential, we just started running around screaming," said Masters, 17 of Van Nuys, the show's script writer.

The two high school journalism organizations in the country who applied for media credentials both received them, said Tim Pagel, of the inaugural media credential committee. The other is Ukiah Highlighter, the student newspaper for Ukiah High School in northern California.

The Baptist High group received credentials to cover Saturday's youth leadership forum and young Americans concert and Monday's inaugural ceremony, parade and inaugural ball for youth.

The students also plan to take their video camera to the sidewalk outside the adults' inaugural ball at the D.C. Convention Center, where the Frank Sinatra-produced gala will take place.

"We'll do some running commentaries on who is arriving and what seems to be going on," Masters said.

The 21 students in the government class elected the six classmates who would go to work on the inaugural. Although the private school is paying for the equipment rental, the students' parents are paying for a cut-rate air fare to the East and low-cost motel rooms in Falls Church, Va.

"It's just going to be go, go, go when we get there," said Belland, 17, who has never been on a plane before. "It's hard to say exactly what we will be doing at each place. But the other shows we have done taught us how to work together on the spot."

Recalling an interview he conducted with Mayor Tom Bradley on presidential Election Night, Belland said, "Once you talk to him you realize that he is just a person, no different than your parents, except he has a different job. Once you understand the job, you can ask them questions."

"I think the politicians are really willing to do interviews with kids," Masters said. "You know, it's the future-voters type of thing."

"I think we should be asking about tax credits for private school and the Supreme Court ruling," said Lisa Hamilton, referring to this week's court decision allowing school officials to search students.

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