Marshall class learns through laughter

Freshman Josh Metrejean pokes fun at an Amarillo television station sportscaster who is not more than 5-feet tall as part of a skit Wedneday during Keith Ingram’s theater class at Marshall Junior High School. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By Tova Fruchtman: CNJ staff writer

Robert Barela, 15, was so nervous during his second-period class at Marshall Junior High on Wednesday that his stomach was growling.

An Amarillo TV station, PRONEWS 7, would be filming Barela and other members of his theater class performing a spoof on the nightly news cast that their theater teacher Keith Ingram wrote.

“This is probably the first time they’ve ever been invited to do a story on them(selves),” Ingram told the class before the theater group performed each scene three times in front of the camera.

The seven theater students who memorized their parts in one night said they rehearsed about five times a day until this performance.

Ingram said he had hoped to tape the performance and send it to the station but was excited to learn the studio would come film them at the school.

The reporter, Cheri Daniels, and a camera operator both let out giggles throughout the shoot while the students performed the “insider information” Ingram said was in the script.

Barela plays a citizen who is hit with an inflatable baseball bat and forced to say on air that he watches channel 7 news.

“We don’t beat our viewers to make them watch,” the real Cheri Daniels said.

Daniels said she was amused by the performance that picked on weather caster Steve Kersh for his balding head and sports reporter Lee Baker for his height.

“It was great they nailed everyone right on,” Daniels said.
She said she wanted to come see the spoof when she heard about it from Ingram a few weeks ago. Ingram said he had friends in the news room and had sent them a copy of the script.

“Everyone wanted to see a spoof of themselves,” Daniels said.

The students are excited to see themselves on the television screen.

Barela said he was going to tape the news station’s report on the spoof, which was scheduled to be aired Wednesday.
“I’ll call my grandma when I get home and let her know to watch channel 7 news,” he said.

The experience sparked a few of the students’ interest in journalism: They want to cover sports so they can see all of the games.

“To get a career in this and get paid for it — that would be really fun,” Barela said.

“You get to see new things every day. You don’t know what’s going to hit you in the face,” he said. Wednesday, it was a blow-up baseball bat.

Ingram said he was flattered that the Amarillo news station decided to come to the school and watch their spoof. He said it was a good experience for his classes to learn about mass media, and he will tape and show it to all of his career classes.

“This brings so much more reality to the classroom than just me standing up here telling about broadcast and media. This is real world,” Ingram said.

After the camera crews left, the students blurted out what they learned from the whole experience:
“(How) to keep a straight face.”

“Don’t be afraid.”

“How to speak up.”

“Just do it.”