A communal experience, delivered over the airwaves – in between English and calculus class

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Co-anchor Kimberly Vanegas, left, wants to have her own show some day, “like The Ellen Show.”

It’s second period on Friday at Grover Cleveland Charter High School in Reseda, a school of 3,000 students, faculty and staff about an hour’s drive north of downtown LA in the morning rush. Students, aka the cast and crew of KCAV News, stream into the campus TV studio and get to work, putting the final preparations on their weekly news show.

In a matter of minutes, they rehearse, set the lights, white balance the cameras, and usher in a live studio audience of fellow teenagers. All around the sprawling school grounds, other classes tune in.

“Kids don’t listen to announcements, but they’ll watch TV—and each other,” says advisor Evelyn Seubert of the weekly newscast. It’s the only time the entire school can come together, since there’s literally no space.

“Five, four, three, two, one,” shouts Jaspreet Kaur, 16, the director, who leads the crew inside the control room and on the studio floor with the experience of a skilled television pro. “I’m so grateful we have such a good crew,” she tells me later. “It’s really just a team effort.”

This particular week, the theme is global studies, and each of the student reporters introduces him or herself in their native tongue, underscoring the diversity of the school: Sri Lankan, Vietnamese, Mexican.

Inside the KCAV control room, "Jazz" Kaur directs the show
Inside the KCAV control room, “Jazz” Kaur directs the show

“I thought I was the only Sri Lankan kid,” says co-anchor Pathun Magidopola. “You see more people with different cultures. You really feel the connection with everyone.”

When the show is done, everyone powers down with the same energy that they kicked into gear–and head on to third period.

“After the show I go to English class and we do English stuff and it goes on like a regular day,” says Kaur. “I wouldn’t give it up for anything.”