A.A. Nelson Elementary celebrated its newly renovated "Nelson News Network" newsroom on Thursday. The renovations are a result of the Junior League of Lake Charles' Branch Out and Grow Educational Grant, which allowed the school to upgrade its news desk, computer, camera, lighting and software.

Nelson News Network has been producing video announcements for the school for the past three years under the leadership of Holly Foshee, a fifth-grade English language arts teacher. Serving primarily as the supervisor of the "very strong news team" comprised of fifth-graders, Foshee said students share the responsibility of anchoring, filming, directing and editing the show.

"They love doing it. They come in ready to roll," she said. "They have their own ideas each morning. They help me with skits that we do throughout the year and the costumes that we put on. They kind of put their own spin on the news."

In addition to school-wide announcements, the news features birthdays, photos, feature segments "What's Happening Wednesday" and "Book Talk Tuesday" and more. Foshee said she takes her cues from the students concerning the direction of the show in hopes they will gain personal confidence.

"It takes a lot of bravery to stand in front of this camera and get in front of their peers every day," she said. "I just want them to learn self-confidence and just being happy with themselves."

Foshee's goals are paying off, according to fifth-grade student Chase Guillory. Guillory aims to be a professional athlete when he grows up and sees Nelson News Network as a training ground for future sports interviews, he said.

The experience is teaching him to be comfortable in the spotlight, he said.

"It doesn't matter what other people think of you," Guillory said.

Shellie Eskew, Junior League president, said the organization's classroom grants impacted nearly 4,000 students in Calcasieu Parish and surrounding areas last year. "It is just amazing to see these kids using their leadership skills, developing their potential and really just giving them that confidence. To see our dollars being used in such a positive way and having such a positive impact really just makes all the work that we do really, really worthwhile," she said

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