These kids are making news!
Pint-sized pupils at a Mill Basin public school turn their library into a bustling newsroom each week when they convene for regular meetings of their Newspaper Club.
Rookie reporters in the PS 236 club, founded three years ago by the school’s enrichment teacher, produce some 15-25 newsletters per school year, with each edition dedicated to a single story. The kids in grades three through five love hitting the hallways for half an hour each week to get the latest scoops from the Avenue U school, and working together to perfect their writing skills, the educator says.
“They feel so important, and some of them are gaining confidence in their writing,” says their teacher Suzy Ojalvo.
This reporter sat in on a Jan. 30 meeting of the newspaper club, watching as two cub reporters wrote up in-depth coverage of the third-grade history presentations, for which kids dressed up as prominent figures such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Walt Disney, and Marie Curie, according to one of the little newshounds.
“It’s when the third graders dressed up as historical figures and made gigantic posters about them and told me about them—I have three entire pages full of quotes,” 4th-grader Eli says.
Her partner-in-print, 8-year-old Jacob, says he got his start in the publishing business at age 5 by writing short autobiographical newspapers, which he would then deliver to his loyal readers on regular weekly deadline.
“I’d tell my friends about a new newspaper I’m writing, then they’d wait and I’d hand them a newspaper on Fridays about my life and they really like it,” the 3rd-grader says.
Two other youngsters spent the session putting together an article on the school’s spelling bee last November. One of the reporters went through the piece checking for the five “Ws”—the keys to any good news story, he says.
“We’re looking at the who, what, where, when, and why of the story,” says club-member Sagie. The 4th-grader flipped through his notes while his teammate Frida typed up the piece. Frida cited her love of putting stories together and newsrooms’ fast paces as two reasons why she hopes to become a fully-fledged journalist in the future.
“I hope to become something of a writer in the future, maybe work for a newspaper,” Frida says. “I like writing because in writing I can take my emotions on it and do whatever I want with it. I also like the action.”
Ojalvo starts the club each year by giving the students a choice of stories to cover at its inaugural meeting, but the kids are also free to pitch ideas, she said. For example, one fifth-grader pitched his own story on the school’s new Spanish Club.
“When we first started I asked Ms. Ojalvo if I could do an article on the Spanish Club, which started this year, because I wanted everybody to know that we have a new club in the school,” says Michael, a one-year veteran of the Newspaper Club.
Chronicling the life and times of their fellow students gives the kids something to look forward to each week, according to the teacher, who said their excitement motivates her to keep the club going.
“I love seeing how excited they feel about being in it. To us it seems like a small thing, but to them it’s such a big deal,” she said.