Community, Cottage Grove, Education

Young newshounds revive The Harrison Hotline

COTTAGE GROVE – It seems journalists are getting younger and younger nowadays.

The Harrison Hotline, a newspaper created by fifth graders, re-emerged at Harrison Elementary School (HES) last month. School staff are unsure of how long it’s been since the original newspaper was created and distributed at HES, but there are rumors that it was previously written on typewriters.

Fifth grader Olivia Love uses her interview notebook to plan what questions she will ask interviewees.

The paper’s comeback is thanks to fifth graders Jasper Simpson and Owen Bradley who had the idea to make a school newspaper earlier this year.

“We thought it would just be us and a small, tiny establishment,” Owen said. “We just thought we were the people who were going to do it.”

After talking to Jasper and Owen, principal Jaimee Massie asked fifth grade teacher Ruby Davey if she was interested in leading a newspaper club. Davey has been a teacher at HES for about seven years now, and last year she ran a creative writing interest group which published a book of short stories written by 5th graders.

“I’ve always been really interested in getting kids involved with other things beyond just the core academics,” Davey said.

Davey told Massie she would happily run the club. She then worked with Jasper and Owen to create a flyer and pass it out to all 5th graders to see if they would like to join. The club now has more than 10 students involved and has received some assistance from the Harrison Parent Club (HPC). The HPC has approved providing the club with funding to buy a digital camera and two voice recorders.

“One of the Harrison Parent Club main goals is to support student endeavors, and this club is a wonderful way for students to get out there and create something amazing for their school,” said Mandi Hunt, HPC president.

Fifth grade teacher and newspaper club leader Ruby Davey assists fifth grader Harrison Pilling with choosing what visual aspect will go alongside his upcoming article about “Star Wars.”

According to Davey, the students write the articles, community resource specialist Jody Pattison helps the students through editing, and Davey designs the newspaper.

“It’s more of a coaching role rather than a teaching role,” Davey said. “We let the kids take the lead, and then we just coach them so that their writing is more robust and multifaceted.”

Davey added that Pattison and she will help the students brainstorm article ideas and then get them assigned to topics before “cutting them loose.”

Students River Hoskin and Naomi Horner brainstorm ideas for their articles.

For example, Davey said fifth grader Harrison Pilling was unsure of what to write about for the club’s upcoming edition, so she asked him what he was interested in that happens in May. Naturally, the “Star Wars” fan said he was looking forward to May the Fourth, so stay tuned for Harrison’s perspective on how people can celebrate that upcoming holiday.

The HES newspaper club meets every Monday and Friday at recess and lunch, and each member has a press pass to make them official journalists. A common reason why these fifth graders have chosen to dedicate their free time to the school paper is because they generally dislike recess.

“It’s honestly better than recess,” fifth grader Lauren West said about newspaper club. “They literally give us 15 minutes (for recess), and 15 minutes is just enough time to figure out what you want to do.”

Many said they really enjoyed interviewing people, which is what keeps them engaged in journalism.

“My favorite part is being able to talk with kids because if you get good enough questions, you really get to dive down into (their) imagination,” fifth grader Olivia Love said.

Davey said she’s really impressed with how hard working the newspaper club members are.

“They give up their lunch and recess a minimum of two days/week, but a lot of times they’re spending their recesses on other days as well working on interviews or doing their articles. Some of them are even working on them at home,” Davey said. “I’m just so proud of the hard work and the grit that these kids have, and it’s really cool. It was really cool to see that first issue go out and see how happy the kids were that they were able to produce a paper that they had written.”



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