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Learning the news business

Pete FowlerGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson
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GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. Two nights a week since December, Sopris Elementary School teacher John Guerrerio’s classroom has transformed into a newsroom after school.Third-, fourth- and fifth-graders ended those school days and turned into reporters and editors. They interviewed other students, teachers and their principal and got extra practice writing and learning about current events. On Tuesday, draft papers covered desks as students scanned stories for errors.Fourth-grader Ben Kurk interviewed principal Howard Jay and learned that “he was once the best swimmer in Glenwood.”It wasn’t for everyone. Of around 36 to 40 original students, only twelve tenacious souls are still at work, editing and revising their product before its publication in June.

Staying on at the paper was about “getting the glory,” third-grader Megan Mazzotta said, which means “pretty much finishing the newspaper.”Those who stayed probably like to write much more than the typical student.”I love writing and it’s like this is my only chance to do it,” fourth-grader Maggie Rosén said. “In class we don’t do much and I thought it would be a fun opportunity. … I think that if I did grow up to be a newspaper reporter it would kind of be cool because I could write for hours on end and never stop. It’s a lot of hard work, though.”Fourth-grader Melissa Thrun wrote a front-page story about global warming.

“Lots of scientists say warming is getting worse and worse every couple years,” she said. “The sea level is rising.”She also likes to write outside class.”It’s fun – I really like to write,” she said. “I get a lot of it in class but wanted to do more.”The kids learned about things such as “lead-ins,” the style of news articles and how to make a story interesting.



“You need to make it exciting or something someone’s actually going to want to read,” fourth-grader Coral Walden said. “You can’t just state the facts. … You can’t just make stuff up and call it a real newspaper story.”She said people tended to do that at the beginning. A story started out about science and ended up talking about werewolves. But that improved over time as they learned. They read newspapers to get a feel for the style. Students looked back at their first articles in shock and horror, saying, “Did I really write that?” Walden said.The paper has many sections: local, world/national, science, sports, reviews, opinion and news of the weird. It’ll be printed on a press in Gypsum owned by the Post Independent’s parent company. The paper created by students for students is made possible by a $1,000 grant from the Roaring Fork Public Education Foundation. Copies of the paper will go out to the school for students, teachers and parents.”It really came along,” Guerrerio said. “They pulled it together.”

At first the stories were questionable, but by the end he hardly had to suggest changes for the students, he said. SES Teacher Cory Reardon also helped coordinate the project.Some news of the weird stories were made up by other students and transmitted to the newspaper through “fake” interviews. One story headlines, “Atomic fart kills people in the New York Botanical Gardens.””He was a judge at a chili competition,” Kurk said.



Contact Pete Fowler: 945-8515, ext. 16611pfowler@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO


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