Clay Today

July 2, 2009

Second grader makes mark with videos

Under photo:  Morgan Groover and Kelly Robertson, Media Specialist at Clay Hill Elementary, hold ribbons received for Morgan’s video “Tuesday’s Tree” at the FAME State competition awards program in Orlando. 

By Christina Leach Phillips


JACKSONVILLE– When Morgan Groover was in first grade, she used to go out to the school yard every Tuesday afternoon, stand on a marked spot on the sidewalk, and take a photograph of a large Elm tree.  It was the fall season, and Morgan photographed the tree as it went from full bloom to the leaves turning color and falling on the ground. She continued taking photographs into winter when the tree was completely bare through February when the tree started to bud again. After she finished taking the sequence of photographs, she printed and laid them out, deleted some, and loaded the rest onto a computer.  She then added titles, music, and voice overs, and she produced an award-winning video. 

“She called the video ‘Tuesday’s Tree,’” said Kelly Robertson, Media Specialist at Clay Hill Elementary.  “The result was simple but beautiful.”

 “Tuesday’s Tree” won Best of Show in District and placed second in State competition for a K-2 Documentary at the Jim Harbin Student Media Festival, a state-wide video production competition for students K-12. The festival is sponsored by the Florida Association for Media in Education, or FAME.

Morgan, now a second grade student in the gifted program at Clay Hill Elementary, started producing videos in Kindergarten that have consistently won awards. She learned to make videos when she joined her school’s Video Production Club, an after school program of about 40 students taught by Robertson.  

When Robertson first took over the media center, she said she learned on the job as she taught her young students. Because video production is very technical, she said she tried to make it simple for them by saying “push this button,” but Robertson did not do the work for her students. “They have to actually do it themselves,” she said. 

Even though Morgan was one of her youngest students, Robertson said that she is very mature for her age and learned easily how to use the video equipment. “Morgan is a very good listener, she is detailed, and she is very patient,” Robertson said. 

Morgan’s first award-winning video in Kindergarten was titled “Marigold Magic.”   Robertson said that Morgan videotaped her class planting Marigold seeds and narrated the steps to grow them as the plants went from seedlings to blossoms in a series of photographs.  She won Best of Show in District for a K-2 Documentary. 

Morgan entered three videos in the competition in second grade and received awards for all three, according to Robertson.  In one video, “Veterans Day at Clay Hill Elementary,” Morgan filmed the entire student body in the school’s courtyard in a ceremony that honored members of their families who were in the military. She placed first in District for a K-2 Documentary.

Another video, “Pennies for Playgrounds,” is a fundraiser commercial that asks students to bring in their pennies to buy playground equipment.  Morgan filmed students from her second grade class as they played on the playground, and she also went on camera.  “Pennies for Playgrounds” won first place in District for K-2 Public Service Announcements. 

Morgan’s third video, “Celebrate Literacy Week, Florida,” is a K-2 Instructional video promoting reading that she filmed in the school’s library with her second grade class as actors.  This video won first place in District, first place in Regional, and it will be judged at State competition this summer, which may require Morgan to take second trip to Orlando to receive an award. 

At the ripe age of eight years old, Morgan is teaching other students how to produce videos. Robertson said that students learn better when the older ones teach the younger ones because “they speak the same language.” 

Jessica Nicholson, Morgan’s second grade teacher, said that she works very well with other students. “Morgan is very bright, always enthusiastic, and wonderful with her peers,” she said.  

As a second grader, Morgan was allowed to join her school’s news crew to produce live morning broadcasts. She said she announces student birthdays and leads the Pledge of Allegiance.  “In third grade, I’ll be able to go on camera!” she said. 

When Morgan is not producing videos or working on the news crew, she likes to read and recently received a top reader award at her school.  She said she also likes to do jazz dancing and to help with her little sister, Emily, age 4. 

Morgan said that when she grows up she would like to be a video producer or someone who teaches video.  Apparently video production runs in Morgan’s family because her uncle, Dean Pernaci, runs a film editing company in Atlanta, according to Morgan’s grandmother, Joann Pernaci.  She said, “Uncle Dean keeps telling her that she is going to be his new protégé.  We all get a kick out of that!” 

Some may wonder what motivates Morgan to excel. She said that she likes to make videos, and she feels proud of herself when she wins awards. 

Her mother, Suzanne Groover, a fifth grade teacher at Clay Hill Elementary, said: “Morgan is a people pleaser, a perfectionist, and a straight A student.  She is very easily motivated because she wants to be the best at everything.” 

Perhaps Robertson summed it up when she said that Morgan always expects success, which is shown at the end of her “Tuesday’s Tree” video.  When Morgan saw that her favorite Elm tree was turning green again, she said, “I can’t wait until next Tuesday!”