Cameras at Crenshaw

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 26, 2008

Cross country trek brings trio to halls of Crenshaw school

By Billy Davis

Standing nervously beside a bulletin board proclaiming her “Student of the Week,” Crenshaw fifth grader Kierra Pride described, in a sweet quiet voice, how she worked hard to earn the honor.

Her audience Wednesday morning was a three-man Dutch TV crew – correspondent, cameraman and producer – on its way to today’s presidential debate in Oxford.

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But the Oxford debate was just one stop on a long journey, said correspondent Eelsco Bosch van Rosenthal.

“We are driving coast to coast,” said van Rosenthal.

The TV crew, employed by Dutch public television, departed from San Francisco and is advancing toward Washington, D.C., he said.

On the road, van Rosenthal is posting Blog entries every day to Web site

The entry from Crenshaw is entitled, “In Mississippi, but for what?” referring to the will-there-be-a-debate question begun by Sen. John McCain.

Previous entries on the Web site show stops in Bill Clinton’s hometown or “village” of Hope, Arkansas; Dealey Plaza in Dallas, where President Kennedy was assassinated; and the American border with Mexico.

Before heading to Oxford, the news crew was filming at Crenshaw Elementary to prepare a TV news item on public education.

The stop in Crenshaw came after producer Sander Warmerdam and van Rosenthal read a Washington Post story about the academic struggles at Como Elementary. The pair began dialoguing with the state Department of Education, and all parties eventually agreed to a visit at Crenshaw.

“They were welcomed by no less than Dr. Hank Bounds, who wanted coverage of the school,” said Crenshaw principal Michael Britt, referring to the state superintendent of education.  

With the camera rolling, van Rosenthal peppered Britt with questions about challenges faced by the school, the role of parental involvement, and why students receive free breakfast and lunch.

Unflustered by the questions, Britt explained: “This is a high poverty area located on the edge of the Mississippi Delta…The parents do the best job they can with their children. They love their children…All schools provide meals for their students…”

Britt was given the principal’s post last year and began his first school year this summer.  

“Our students appear to be eager to learn, and the community is supportive,” Britt said, reporting that 66 parents attended a recent PTO meeting.

The school’s enrollment is 207 students in kindergarten through sixth grade.

“If you do the math, that means we reached 75 percent of the parents here,” Britt said.