Viking Vision, Grand Island High School's version of Headline News, passed a milestone last week with the airing of its 100th newscast in its first full school year of operation.
In typical Viking Vision fashion, the 100th broadcast included news, weather, bloopers and a pie in the face of an anchorman.
Viking Vision began right after Martin Luther King Day last year in January 2010, said Mark Gorton, the district's coordinator of instructional technology. Its shows air on the big screen in the Viking Mall during the school day, as well as online at schooltube.com.
Gorton and the students put together three shows a week. The first Viking Vision newscast featured the anchor team of Anthony Grande and Tori Fleming and about 25 other students, Gorton said. This year, the roster of reporters has grown to more than 40.
"We had an inking there was interest out there," Gorton said of the channel's birth last year. "Really, at first, we had a lot of people talking about it and thought it would be a neat idea, but to have it turn into this, I never would have expected."
"I've been very blessed to have students who are enthusiastic about this, who like being on TV and are interested in broadcasting, and they're good people too," Gorton said.
Students receive no credit for taking part in Viking Vision, which is considered an after-school extracurricular activity.
"They do everything from anchoring, great recorded pieces, to recording Viking Values messages, and we have a couple people who work behind the scenes and do audio and run camera," Gorton said. "So they're really contributing in all different facets of media and production."
The 100th newscast also includes video tributes from Viking Vision alumni who helped launch the group last year.
Tom Gorman and Gorton received a $5,000 Best Buy grant, with some funds used to purchase equipment.
"It hasn't been a burden of cost at all for the district, which is great," Gorton said.
Student and staff reaction to the program has been favorable in its first year. Rachel Ripellino co-anchored a Viking Vision show that is one of the most watched episodes, second only to a newscast that covered a certain GIHS physics teacher receiving a wedgy from Buffalo Sabres alumnus Rob Ray during a charity basketball game. Ripellino said she joined Viking Vision this year because "It sounded interesting. And then when I went and did it my first time it was really fun, and I just wanted to go back and do it again."
She said she's receive plenty of feedback not only from her classmates, but from teachers as well.
"It depends on the teacher, but the teachers mostly just like to see their students kind of being professional-acting and a little funny at the same time," Ripellino said. "It must be interesting to them."