A cadre of teenage broadcast reporters has taken over the Thousand Oaks High School campus at lunchtime, interviewing friends on important issues and airing their newsmagazine show on public-access TV.
On Friday, members of the video club interviewed their peers in front of rolling cameras about the school's color guard competition and what type of music they like to hear blasted from the campus speakers during lunch.
"I guess I've always wanted to be a movie star," admitted 16-year-old Anushka Ratnayake.
But Anushka said she has learned that broadcast journalism is more than just soaking up the spotlight.
"I like covering things I'm interested in and then being able to share that with other people," she said.
Formed in November, the 35-member video club already has aired its first and only 15-minute show three times on Conejo Valley's Channel 21 education station.
The show, which includes segments on the girls' water polo team, student congress and the school's new theater building, will air again at 6 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
The club borrows free equipment from TCI Cable and borrows studios at Cal Lutheran University for editing.
The idea is that of English teacher Nancy Schroeder, who was a reporter for CNN and Santa Barbara's KEYT-TV in the 1980s.
While the club now meets at lunch and after school, Schroeder hopes one day to teach a broadcast journalism class as part of the regular curriculum.
Schroeder said she has noticed changes in her students since teaching them about writing, editing, filming and making news judgments.
"They've started coming to me asking, 'Is the drinking water safe?'. . . . They're thinking like reporters--critically," she said.
She said students are realizing how long it takes to create a show and how egos often get in the way. Whose face gets to be seen on TV and who gets to carry the camera are common disputes.
Juggling a microphone in one hand and a list of questions in another, 14-year-old Ryan Rosario conceded that the life of a roving reporter is not as easy as he once had thought.
"It's harder than it looks," he said.