Tiffany McKinnon, 11, arched her back and raised her head as her parents had taught her.
The sixth grader walked briskly to a colored map hanging in her school library and with a cue stick began pointing to states whose forecasts she would mention in her weather report.
Fifth grade anchors Kimberly Willis, 10, and Brandon Dortch, 9, rehearsed their scripts. Reading teacher Ann St. Hillaire stood nearby, then raised her arm and began a countdown: five, four, three, two, one. "Roll 'em," a pupil's voice shouted and the two children suddenly smiled.
"My name is Brandon Dortch and with me is Kimberly Willis, and we're from Miss Groom's fifth grade class. Good morning, Kettering Elementary School," he said.
This is the way each day begins at the Prince George's County school. The school's morning broadcast on WKES, with a format reminiscent of television's "Good Morning America," features school announcements, weather, sports and special guests. The live program is seen by 654 pupils on television sets in each of the school's homeroom classes.
"It's a way for us to get the morning announcements out and teach the children effective communication skills," said Kettering Principal Lucy W. Marr.
Kettering's 10-minute program is an example of a growing trend in county elementary, middle and high schools. At least 55 schools produce live broadcasts on closed-circuit television every morning, according to Scott Schiller, a resource specialist with the county school system.
"The programs are popular because they don't cost anything and most of the schools already have the equipment to produce them. What they're doing is being creative with what facilities they have and using the programs as tools for learning," Schiller said.
John W. O'Donnell, principal at Kenilworth Elementary School in Bowie, said his school has produced a morning television program for eight years, making it one of the longest running programs in the county school system.
"The children enjoy it because it gives them a chance to put their knowledge to use by demonstrating that they know how to gather, write and adapt the news to their classmates," O'Donnell said.
Schiller said the programs are produced with regular home video television cameras, videotape recorders and television sets purchased by the school system so teachers can videotape classroom activities and show students educational programs.
Kettering librarian Joan Ellis, who with St. Hillaire organizes the program, said teachers still use the equipment in the classrooms, but the school's morning broadcast, whose call letters are an abbreviation of the school's name with a "W" tacked on, are fast becoming the more popular use for the equipment.
"I have seen these students gain confidence and become more outgoing as a result of their participation," Ellis said.
To get the Kettering program on the air by 8:09 a.m., students and staff arrive at the school by 7:30 a.m. to rehearse their scripts and set up props.
Tiffany said she sees her experience on the program as a steppingstone to a career in modeling and acting.
"It gives me the chance to be on TV and teaches me about what goes into making a show," the sixth grader said.
"I like the announcing part of it because I learn how to communicate and how not to be nervous in front of the other kids," Kimberly said seconds before the start of a recent broadcast.
Marr said she thought a morning program would be a better way of disseminating the school's news than announcing it over the public address system. Plus, the television program gets students' attention and offers them a greater educational experience, she said.
"The children are responsible for gathering the news about the school and writing it and presenting it, all of which gives them good practical experience just as if they were in a class," Marr said.
Kettering's broadcasts follow a set format and rotate third through sixth graders who maintain at least a C average in the anchor, weather and sports slots every month.
Each program features interviews with special guests such as the principal, classmates and new teachers. The programs also include birthday announcements, vocabulary words of the day and sports wrap-ups; a recent report updated the status of the National Football League strike and baseball championships.
To be on the program, pupils must fill out applications, which Ellis said helps stress the importance of good penmanship and writing skills. The children must then audition to prove that they can articulate the news -- another way of teaching good communication skills, Ellis said.
The recent program opened with a musical selection followed by a multiplication exercise.
"Tomorrow is the last day of the book sale, so if you want books, don't forget to bring your money," Kimberly said, turning to her colleague. "Brandon."
Marr was the morning's special guest with an introduction of a new physical education teacher. She also asked the student body to pause for a moment of silence in memory of 6-year-old Jonathan Tate, a first grader at the school who died in a truck accident Oct. 11.
Schiller said he expects morning television programs to be organized at more schools as the idea spreads. In addition, programs will become more sophisticated and polished.
Brandon thinks of the productions as a classy way of learning.
"It's just like being in class because we're learning all the time. The only difference is we have to keep up our grades if we want to stay with" the program, he said.