Thursday, May 28, 2009

Father in Baghdad to Watch Fayette County Triplets Graduate Via Live Broadcast

An Air Force captain serving in Baghdad will get to watch his triplet sons graduate from Whitewater High School in Fayetteville in real time on Friday thanks to NBC and local network affiliate 11Alive.

Capt. William Cooke probably thought he would only get to see this milestone occasion documented through photos or videotape after the fact, but thanks to his commanding officer and some diligent work from the school’s staff, he will witness the monumental event over the Internet as it unfolds.

Capt. Cooke is not the only one receiving a special gift on graduation day. His sons, Cory, William and Michael, will see a broadcast message from their dad aired during the ceremony. NBC in Baghdad is handling the details.

“It should be an amazing evening,” says Suzanne Spatz, secretary to Principal Greg Stillions.

Spatz says the idea of having a live broadcast of the graduation started last Thursday when Capt. Cooke’s commanding officer called making the request. The school’s broadcasting teacher, Carolyn Smith, knew a live feed was beyond the scope of her students’ abilities so she turned to Donna Lowry, education reporter for 11Alive, for assistance.

“I had done a story earlier this year on some of her students who had won a grant. I guess she contacted me because of the connection we made while I was doing the story,” says Lowry.

After hearing the request, Lowry immediately contacted NBC network officials to see if there was a way to fulfill the live broadcast request. After many phone calls and email messages, Lowry finally received word on Monday that the network had agreed to help.

NBC will broadcast the entire graduation ceremony, which begins at 7 p.m., through a live online feed that is being provided by 11Alive. There will be a link on the 11Alive website ( for anyone who wants to watch. It is hoped that NBC in Baghdad will be able to be onsite with Capt. Cooke to film his reaction in real time as he watches his sons graduate.

11Alive spent Wednesday filming Baccalaureate practice and interviewing the triplets. The story on the Baccalaureate aired Wednesday evening. The station announced Tuesday evening about the live stream and featured an interview with the triplets. Both stories can be viewed on

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