Fair Skies, Wavy Clouds or Twisters, He’s On It

Weather Guy Key to Red Arrow News Team

Joel job-shadowed in the spring with Fox 17 chief meteorologist Joe Kopecek (courtesy photo)

It’s 7:40 on a recent Monday morning, and high school student staffers are busy at work behind the scenes putting together the Red Arrow Report, which broadcasts daily the Pledge of Allegiance, daily announcements, sports and news. They go live in a matter of minutes.

Sometimes there is enough time to do a quick run-through. Not today.

Bryan “Bry Guy” Ashenbremer checks the sports scores on his cell phone. Rachael Kleinedler sits at a pair of monitors and instructs Brittany Corner which way to point the cameras that are aimed at anchors Lane Ryan and Collin Baker. Chloe Schmidt, who is in charge of editing what goes on the teleprompter, announces that she has just lost her internet connection.

At another computer, studio director Joel Fritsma works with his back toward the hulabaloo to prepare slides for his daily weather report. The high school senior delivers the good or bad news, depending on how you look at it, which is broadcast throughout the building every Monday. He occasionally throws in a Friday football forecast.

Joel troubleshoots a technical glitch with teacher Jennifer Lavis and teleprompter editor Chloe Schmitt

Love at First Storm

Joel also has his own weather blog on the district’s online athletics page. The blog includes his snow day predictions and even info on his job-shadow experience last spring with Fox 17 chief meteorologist Joe Kopecek. He also helps with social media for Red Arrow Athletics.

“Ever since first grade I’ve planned to be a meteorologist,” Joel said. “I have quite the passion for weather. The toughest part about majoring in meteorology (in college) is going to be the three years of calculus.”

Joel is an equal-opportunity weather geek, he said, unlike Weather Channel meteorologist Jim Cantore, who “When he sees thundersnow, he just gets all freaked out about it.”

Whereas Joel says any kind of extreme weather really gets him going.

“We had a tornado in April touch down like six miles from our house. It was pretty exciting.”

Today, however, Joel will have to settle for delivering news of unseasonably warm weather for mid-September. But before that, he springs the newest addition to his broadcast to the viewing public: a weather word of the day. The inaugural term: asperatus undulatus.

“It’s a wavy type of cloud you see usually before or after storms,” he explains on-air.

Joel delivers the newscast with ease, and walks off set with a fist pump.

CONNECT

See some of Joel’s weather videos

Red Arrow Report Uploads

Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them.

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