By ELIZABETH DISHIAN, Connecticut Post
SHELTON, Conn. — At a time when many kids turn to smart phones and tablets for their news, some Perry Hill School students want their friends to reach for a new option – The Panther Pride, the school’s first student newspaper.
“I like writing the articles and doing research for them,” said fifth-grader Samantha Kovalsky, 10. “My favorite article was one I helped write about soda and calories.”
When the idea of creating a newspaper was first brought to Lorriane Williams, principal of Perry Hill, she was excited for her fifth- and sixth-grade students.
“The advisers and kids do a wonderful job,” Williams said. “It’s school- and age-appropriate.”
Cara Foley, one of the newspaper’s four advisers, said the teachers wanted to leave their mark on a new school.
“We also wanted to show students how important non-fiction texts are,” Foley said. “The newspapers are used in the classrooms, too. Students read and discuss the articles and provide the club with feedback.”
When the teachers share the newspaper with the students, it gets a dialogue going about what newspapers really are, Williams said.
“I feel like (students) are getting a better appreciation for the newspaper and what it is and the information you can get from it, both in print and online,” Williams said.
She also said having a newspaper that the students can hold in their hands and not just read online is very important.
“I think you need that hard copy,” Williams said. “I think it’s good we’re doing it in print and the kids want it in their hands. I feel like if it’s in print you read the whole thing, and I think if it’s online you’re going to read an article here and an article there.”
The Panther Pride got students more interested in reading and writing, too.
“When classes get that paper, they read it – and they want to read it,” Williams said. “It’s definitely a high-interest way for them to read and write as well.”
The students in the club have learned about editorials, surveys and interest articles, Williams said, adding that the advisers have done a good job explaining the elements of a newspaper.
“I’ve been playing hockey for eight years,” said sixth-grader Chris Cyr, 11, “so it was cool when I got to write an article about it.”
The club is always happy when the newspaper comes out because all their classmates talk about it, Kovalsky said.
“Students and the staff are so proud when it comes out,” Williams said. “They can’t wait to tell me what they’re working on. They can’t wait to come and interview me. They can’t wait to give me that issue when it’s complete, and they love telling the parents and classmates about it.”
The club has so much fun combining all their ideas and working together, said fifth-grader Bobby Marcinauskis, 10. The paper always has pictures and it’s very descriptive.
Marcinauskis said he’s working on a dedication to Newtown and the 26 people – 20 children and six staff members – who were killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
Williams said students want to know about the news going on at school and the newspaper club tries its best to provide that information.
“In the future, I would love to see it get bigger,” Williams said. “I can see the newspaper becoming something that everybody can really depend on, and I think it’s great for pride, morale, reading and writing.”