Murch Elementary’s ace student reporters are taking over for us this week. Fourteen fourth and fifth graders worked on the District’s only elementary school newspaper during the 2015-2016 school year, under the guidance of longtime journalist Aaron Epstein. He’s been their adviser since the first The Blue and Gold newspaper published in 2013. (We were proud to publish their stories then, too.)
We’ve been given permission to reprint the articles in the final 2016 edition, and we will do so all week. But we also encourage you to check out the entire newspaper. You’ll see that the students work hard to follow their “First Commandment:” Thou Shalt Not Bore the Reader.
Because we know that not everyone’s hard work is recognized with a byline, here is the 2015-2016 staff of The Blue and Gold.
5th grade: Maia Bester, Lucy Chamberlain, Tessa Furlow, Mary Louisa Leopold, Naomi Rea, Lilly Shaw, Rigby Zentner
4th grade: Francesca Ban-Goodrich, Adrian Belmonte, Simon Holland, Rachel Kolko, Zoe Morehead, Paulina Stewart-Aday, Josie Walker
We begin with their writeup about an article – about them!
The three-year-old Blue and Gold was featured in a recent publication of the National Elementary Schools Press Association (NESPA), an organization of 750 schools and individuals from around the country.
NESPA interviewed B&G editor Aaron Epstein, who said that he tries to fill staff positions with Murch students who are “smart, curious, inquisitive, motivated, creative, well-organized, well-organized, responsible, and able to write clearly and meet deadlines.”
Newcomers are taught the basic principles of journalism, emphasizing accuracy, terseness, clarity, strong leads, self-criticism, rewriting and interviewing, he said.
“Is there anything your students have done that you’re particularly proud of?” NESPA asked Mr. Epstein.
“In general, I am proudest of the fact that most of the students on The Blue and Gold staff improve their reporting and their writing,” he replied.
Then he listed specific examples of outstanding work in the past by kid journalists at Murch. Among them, he said, were:
1. Two fifth-graders who went to the nearby home of a professional author of children’s books and found out what the author was writing at their age.
2. The fourth-grader who reviewed the school lunches for three weeks and dared to write that one meal consisted of “chicken that was hard to chew, cornbread that was dry and difficult to swallow, and mashed potatoes that were far too greasy for my taste.”
3. The fifth-grader who wrote a poem about bullying: “Taunting, teasing, chasing me/How did it all start?/Words come out like daggers/Striking through my heart.”
4. The fifth-grader who began her lively profile of the school’s “lunch lady” with this lead: “If you’re ever in need of breakfast or a hot lunch, then Tiffany Darlene Massey is your woman. With a warm smile, she greets you every day with ‘Good morning, baby. Whatcha need?’”
5. The fourth-graders who demonstrated courage and critical thinking skills by writing editorials about life in school trailers and excessive homework and testing.
6. The fourth-grader who began a report on classroom animals with a lead that focused on a female tarantula. “The kids in one kindergarten class have their own superpet: the amazing Spiderwoman,” she wrote. “She can leave her skin, regrow her own body parts and walk on walls like Spiderman.”
7. The fourth-grader who told of her frequent visits to the school nurse, humorously confessing, “My stomach always hurt in math class. If I have to have a stomachache, I’d rather have it during math, especially when we’re dividing fractions.”
8. The entire Blue and Gold staff, who politely but firmly peppered the architect of the school’s multi-million dollar modernization project with dozens of prepared questions – and then produced a lively, timely, informative and newsworthy report for Page One.