Small Town News


Student reporters blooming at WMS

Cloverdale Reveille of Cloverdale, California

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Student newsletter

Young journalists emerged at Washington Middle School this year as the school's first-ever publishing class was added as an elective.

Seventh and eighth grade students in Philip Worms' class worked during the first few weeks of school to create the "Eagles Chronicle," a newsletter scheduled to be distributed to students and their families at the end of each quarter in English and soon to be in Spanish.

The group of students who write and edit the newsletter changes with each quarter — four times a year — but what stays consistent is the process of the girls and boys in the class learning to write, interview, edit and publish their own ideas and stories.

"I enjoy having the student perspective," Worms said. "I appreciate the views of seventh and eighth graders, and it is refreshing to see what is important to our students."

The process began with a basic overview of what goes into publishing news, Worms explained. Then, the students chose what issues were important to them and were divided into small groups.

"This is my first time teaching publishing and I was very pleased with the final newsletter," Worms said. "The students worked diligently in small groups creating a section of the newsletter that would be of high interest for the student body and local community."

Some of the different sections of the paper include sports, student government, entertainment, comics and event coverage.

One of the articles a group worked on covered Challenge Day, an event held for seventh graders at the beginning of the year to promote more compassion towards peers and self-confidence.

"We wrote about the activities we did, what happened and how it inspired the kids to change their perspectives," said WMS student Christopher Lopez.

Other students had the opportunity to interview the principal and their sports coaches, experiences they said helped them build a greater understanding about what school employees do on a day-to-day basis to help the school and students.

"It was complex to find articles and then write about them and also go and interview the principal and all other different coaches," WMS student Collin Patterson said.

Once all of the articles were written, the students in one large group reviewed every piece for spelling errors and other edits.

Worms and eighth grade language arts teacher Jackie Rose reviewed the story drafts once more for final copy-editing. Worms then designed the newsletter to make the students' ideas come to life on the page.

When talking with the Reveille about the process, most of the students said writing is not their strongest, nor their favorite, subject but that Worms' instruction and the student-led class structure was beneficial.

"I feel like I learned more in here than in any other class," Justin Webb said. "I was never a good writer or anything, and Mr. Worms helped me."

However, when the students were asked if they would consider a career in the field of journalism, nobody was interested yet. "I think other than it being kind of difficult, everybody did like it. It's just that everybody already has plans for what jobs they want in the future," Lopez said.

Most of the students described the process as difficult but said they were proud of what they produced.

"I would like to expose the students to more people in the professional field of publishing and journalism so they have an idea of what it looks like on a daily basis in the real world," Worms said. "I think often times the students get stuck on the writing process, and if that is something they struggle with it can be overwhelming. However, journalism and publishing is so much more."

The biggest controversy the group of writers experienced was choosing the name of the newsletter. "It was a vote and it's a little touchy right now," Worms said as students sparked conversations amongst each other during the interview with the Reveille.

"We experienced bumps in the road, but learned together what needs to be done and how much work it takes to produce a student-led newsletter," Worms said.

Copyright 2015 Cloverdale Reveille, Cloverdale, California. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: November 5, 2015

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