Cub reporters learn by writing for school newspaper

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Volunteer Pat Jackson helps student reporter Giadalyn Marshall, 11, with an article she is writing for the Red Cedar Gazette at Red Cedar Elementary School. AMY COYNE BREDESON

A group of budding journalists at Red Cedar Elementary School has worked hard this school year to report fair, accurate and interesting news to readers.

The 13 students who make up the staff of the Red Cedar Gazette are all in the fifth grade and were nominated by their teachers to join the newspaper staff.

Volunteer Pat Jackson is sort of the executive editor of the newspaper. She has helped since the beginning and has seen about 70 fifth graders work on the newspaper, which is now in its eighth year of publication.

"I'm really thrilled with the group this year," Jackson said. "They've written such a wide variety of stories."

This year's staff has covered topics from miniature horses to honey bees, favorite pets to sports, and Harry Potter to climate change.

Giadalyn Marshall, 11, has written probably the most articles in the group, Jackson said. Giadalyn's favorite story was about a teacher who was recently trapped in a school elevator during a power outage.

"It has a lot of pizazz," Giadalyn said about her story. "It made me want to write about it, and from the readers' perspective, they probably didn't want to stop reading it."

Hien Ta, 11, loves that writing for the newspaper gives her the opportunity to learn about various topics and hear different opinions. She recently wrote an article about climate change, citing facts from NASA, and including quotes from students and teachers.

While the students come up with their own story ideas and do the investigative reporting, they do have the help of Jackson and a few other dedicated volunteers.

Jackson, known as "Ms. Pat" to students, organizes the newspaper, approving story ideas, editing them and formatting each issue. The Gazette is printed on a double-sided, 8.5-by-11-inch piece of paper and distributed to students. It can also be found in the front office.

Jackson and her team of volunteers, visit Red Cedar Elementary around lunchtime every Wednesday to help the students put together a quality newspaper. Most of the volunteers are Jackson's neighborhood friends, but this year's Gazette staff has the added benefit of having a student reporter whose mother is a journalist.

Jackson also organizes the school's biannual literary magazine, Fox Tales, which includes stories, poems and artwork by Red Cedar students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

The newspaper staff just wrapped up its seventh issue of the school year.

"I hope the kids will gain a curiosity about other people's opinions, especially those people not in their immediate circle," Jackson said. "The interviews help to reinforce this. A reporter might enjoy music, but what are the things that other people enjoy and why?"

Amy Coyne Bredeson of Bluffton is a freelance writer, a mother of two and a volunteer with the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance.

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