Students learn through ‘Northern Lights News’There is pride behind every page of the Northern Lights News. Young reporters, photographers and editors couldn’t contain their smiles as they pointed out their first two issues last week. Pictures and stories highlighted everything from the school’s seventh straight tug-of-war victory at Track-O-Rama to a playground cleanup, a symphony trip to a “Math Masters” competition.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
There is pride behind every page of the Northern Lights News. Young reporters, photographers and editors couldn’t contain their smiles as they pointed out their first two issues last week. Pictures and stories highlighted everything from the school’s seventh straight tug-of-war victory at Track-O-Rama to a playground cleanup, a symphony trip to a “Math Masters” competition.
“It’s actually really fun doing the papers and interviewing people,” said Abbey Ulmer, 10.
Her fifth grade classmate Quinton Ross said he has started taking the camera with him every time there’s an event going on. Why is it important to publish a paper, they were asked.
“So people can know what the big events are,” Abbey said.
“It’s nice that everybody can know what’s going on,” said fellow reporter Katie Esperson-Fellbaum.
“So people can just see it and be happy about it,” Quinton said.
Newspaper staff members spend time each week working on the publication. They do it all — interviews, pictures, writing, editing and page layout — under the direction of fifth grade team teacher Shelly Theisen.
“It’s such a positive experience,” she said. Not only do kids learn confidence and writing skills, they get hands-on lessons in technology. Working with Microsoft Office Publisher on the school computers is a big motivation for the students, and it’s been an eye-opener for their teacher.
“I’ve learned too, big time,” Theisen said.
The newspaper staff, which also includes fifth graders Antonio Mack and Gage Robinson, has discovered the importance of saving their work often and in the right computer drive. And they’ve learned to tackle problems — like when the words and pictures don’t line up right on the page — with laughter instead of frustration.
“One article can take up to 30 minutes” to put on the page, Theisen said. “There’s so much editing.”
To get ideas for stories, Theisen sends out all-school emails to find out what classes are doing.
“What we’re focusing on is coming together as a whole,” she said. Competitions, field trips and other school happenings then become the topic of interviews and pictures. When an edition is complete, the students print out 100 copies — one for each staff member.
Each of the students has a favorite job. Abbey enjoys interviewing people. Quinton prefers snapping photos. And Katie’s favorite part is laying out pages, determining where everything should go. Theisen said starting a newspaper has also made her more aware of everything that’s going on at Northern Lights, and she’s always thinking of story possibilities for her staff.
The students who put out the Northern Lights News said they feel good when a new edition comes out. It’s exciting to see their words and pictures in print. Only certain students were invited to join the newspaper staff this year. The work they did went “above and beyond” regular classwork, Theisen said, and the students really stepped up to make the paper a success.
Their last publication is slated for June, and may include an article on the school’s patriotic spring program.
“I’ll miss my crew,” said Theisen, who hopes to start the presses rolling with a new batch of students in the fall. And they’ll miss her. Of course, they’ll only be a few blocks away at Superior Middle School.
“I’ll come back and help,” Abbey said.