By Katie Collins
News Eagle Reporter
A dream was achieved 21 years ago, when
DVE-TV and DVE-News started at Delaware Elementary School, following retired principal, Sonya K. Cole's visit to Pearl Buck School in Levittown, PA. Cole envisioned something the school had never done before. An after-school journalism program, run by the kids, for the kids where the students would report, write and do everything professional journalists do.
Today, Cole says she did not expect the program to become as successful as it is. She credits, Sharron Siegel, the DV Media Specialist with much of the program's success as she has been with the program since its initiation 21 years ago.
Although Siegel has been with the club since the beginning, there have always been other coaches. Currently, Teri Banach and Christine Gawel also bring their own talents to the program.
To experience different jobs, one day a reporter may take attendance and the next be a weather broadcaster. Students produce their own daily news show in the school and a weekly show for public television in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and online.
The fifth and six grade journalists are meeting world leaders, sports figures or just about whomever they hope, by reaching out into the world, through letters to the different persons. In November, some students were on the Today Show because that was one student’s goal. Another girl, who hopes to work at the New York Times someday, says she could not "believe they answered" as Siegel was on the phone with a representative from the New York Times.
Even though the students write their letters, there is no promise that their wishes will come true. As was the case, in November, when a boy asked Siegel if she had heard back from the Pentagon. Siegel had not. A girl tried to comfort her classmate when she said "the Pentagon would definitely answer."
When the students met John Travolta, he told Siegel and the other coaches to wait for the students as he gave them a tour at the Philadelphia Summit for Volunteers. Siegel says it was "like we didn’t even exist" which she adds "is really the focus."
Aside from Travolta, students have met; Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Walter Cronkite, Oprah Winfrey, Yogi Berra, Linda Ellerbee, Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, just to name a few. The Wall of Fame showcases world renowned leaders and celebrities, that many people could only dream of ever meeting.
The idea of meeting society’s elite came about when the coaches wanted the students to know that there are famous role-models who are approachable. Calling the students "magnets for role-models" Siegel explains that with their red shirts and cameras, the students are "not only really cute, but they're very professional."
All of the equipment used, has been purchased with money the students have earned. For their trips, the students host a Tricky Tray fundraiser, sell "smencils" which are pencils that smell, along with chocolate bars. Siegel says it is "really neat" that the students are "learning to work for what they want." For this year's big trip, the sixth graders will go to Boston and the fifth graders will go to Harrisburg.
Every day, the students volunteer their time, arriving an hour before classes start for the DVE-TV news and staying an hour after school for the newspaper which is known as "The Smile-O Gram."
As for the kids, Siegel calls them "great" because of their "endless energy and ideas." She adds, "I love it here."
Along with the journalism clubs, many students are also involved in Kid-Connection, an anti-bullying program at DVE. In March, the students will present "Letters to Daddy," a play about letters children have written, telling of instances when they were bullied. Students throughout the district will be involved, including teachers and the coaches of DVE-TV.
Through the years, Siegel says people have been "outstanding and responsive to our young reporters and staff." She concludes, "There are many good people in the world, which is something we need to never lose sight of."
For information online, visit the school web site at
In the search bar at bottom, type in The Smile-O Gram for the DVE-News newspaper, or click "News" on the home page for DVE-TV.