Secaucus has a cadre of new reporters on the scene who are ready to cover all news and events at Clarendon Elementary School. As new members of the School Newspaper Club, the group recently published the Clarendon School Courier, renamed from the previous Clarendon Times. The four-page newspaper included a lead story about student favorite rock band One Direction, a Sports Corner, an interview with the Teacher of the Year, and other selections.
Creative minds at work
Co-advisors Felicia Maloney and Dawn Doering led a recruitment process last fall for newspaper club members, open to fifth and sixth graders.
“We are looking for people who love to write…are highly motivated…[and] would like to be part of a team,” said Doering last week.
Students demonstrated their interest in the club in a written letter, which was reviewed by the co-advisors. Eighteen students are involved in the group.
“I love this idea to gather information and capture the creative minds in all of us,” wrote fifth grader Savannah Kocerha in her letter.
“I think this would not only be a fun experience, but a learning experience too,” said Mira Rajani in her letter. “We would learn how hard newspaper editors, writers, photographers, etc. all work together to give us news.”
“I like getting the word out about news.” – Sabina Galang.
“I've been writing since second grade,” said fifth grader Vanessa Buckwalter. “I am capable of using colorful vocabulary, varieties of sentences, and text structure. I use my writing abilities to make my stories and essays interesting for different kinds of genres.”
Buckwalter isn’t the only one who has had a passion for writing since an early age. A number of students shared last week that they had written fiction stories with characters who ranged from a young girl who was mayor to super heroes.
Lunchtime editorial meetings
The students are working to produce between four and five newspapers a year. They work on their articles during their free time or at home. They meet every other Wednesday during lunch to pitch ideas and discuss possible stories.
“They can sit and eat lunch with us….we brainstorm,” said Doering.
At a recent editorial meeting, the students tossed around a number of ideas, such as writing about a school food drive for Little Ferry families affected by Hurricane Sandy, featuring different clubs, writing book reviews, or writing about a new substitute teacher at Clarendon. A few students were interested in offering up editorial pieces.
“I like to express my thoughts to the world,” said fifth grader Eshaan Mangat.
“I like having people hear what I have to say,” said fifth grader Mackenzie Szabo.
The students were also interested in how a reporter gets stories, how long it takes to write an article, and what happens when someone doesn’t want to be interviewed, among many other questions. The student reporters all had a grasp of the fundamentals of a good story in that it answers who, what, why, where, when, and how. Many had a keen interest in telling a good story.
“I like writing information,” said fifth grader Daniel Merchel.
“I like getting the word out about news,” said fifth grader Sabina Galang.
Beyond art and comics
“Many wanted to do art work and comics,” said Maloney about the first set of editorial meetings. “But we kept on reminding the students that it was a newspaper and [it] needed articles or stories for students to read in addition to art and comics.”
Maloney and Doering brought in real newspapers as well as examples of other school newspapers.
While articles slowly drifted in at first – not enough to fill a newspaper – the students met the task of turning in a story once they learned that club membership was on the line.
“As advisors, we told the reporters [they] each had to submit an article if they wanted to stay in the club,” said Maloney. “Within the next day or so, we had so many articles that it immediately went to a four-page spread.”
The students had the opportunity to see the newspaper in color on a Promethean Board before it went to print.
“The students were excited to see the final copy of the paper,” said Maloney.
“Once they saw how nice it came together, it really motivated them,” noted Doering.
She added, “We’ve gotten positive feedback,” in regard to the response from the rest of the school.
Adriana Rambay Fernández may be reached at email@example.com.