WTES News does not have a large viewing audience but it is the favored news program of about 1,000 students at Winchester Trail Elementary School.

Each Friday for the past four years, the prerecorded news program -- entirely handled by a student crew -- presents about 15 minutes of news, feature stories, weather and sports to the school's classrooms.

This year's news crew includes 18 fifth-grade students who were recommended by their teachers. They meet for 30 minutes every Monday before school starts with media specialist Lydia Tokarz to brainstorm story ideas.

Each student has a role on the news crew, which consists of researchers, reporters, camera crews, editors, a weather person, a sports person and a secretary who makes sure everyone is doing his or her job.

"We have 1,000 students in grades three, four and five, so our video news announcements are a great way to bring our school community together," Tokarz said. "So many times, if you are in one hallway, you don't know what teachers and students are doing in other hallways, so this is a great way to recognize things that are going around our school."

Students work all week during their enrichment and intervention time to research stories, write the scripts, take videos and complete other WTES News assignments.

Tokarz said students are so busy putting their newscast together that sometimes they give up recess and lunch to meet their deadlines.

Aaron Walls, 10, is a weatherman and former reporter for the news crew. He credits the program with teaching him time-management skills and said he is more confident about speaking in front of people.

"I wanted to be on the news crew because I saw it as an opportunity to be a leader in the school," Aaron said. "News crew is cool and fun and you get to meet new people."

Lilyana Tipple, 11, is a reporter. She said she wanted to be a part of the team so she could learn about cameras and be able to talk in front of them without being nervous.

"I thought it would be a fun opportunity and wanted to learn something new," she said.

Tokarz said the program gives the students "real-world experience" and helps them to be "future-ready."

"It's a great opportunity to get a taste of career opportunities that are available to them someday," she said.

Last year, students in the program went on a field trip to the WTTE Fox 28 studios to watch a live broadcast, meet the anchors and help with a weather forecast.

This year, retired NBC4 news anchor Cabot Rea was invited to a "business meeting" in December with the students to discuss his career.

Tokarz said all students were required to wear their "business attire" that day and prepare a "meaningful, thoughtful question" to ask him.

She said Winchester Trail students look forward to the news each week.

"We love that we have an authentic audience each week that helps us showcase our very best selves," she said.

Because members of the crew are "little celebrities in school," they are held to a higher standard.

"We want them to be model students," Tokarz said.