Twelve-year-old Derica Porter takes her job seriously. As one of seven editors who work on a student-run newspaper at Orchards Elementary School, she believes the paper’s mission to inform others is vital.
“It’s important to maybe educate the younger ones and to inform them of what’s going on in the community and around the world,” Porter said.
The newspaper, which began in November, is made by the sixth-graders at the school. They create content, put together the pages and edit the copy.
Porter often takes her work home with her because she enjoys the paper that much.
“I’m getting messages at like 9 at night from her,” sixth-grade teacher Dani Bozzuto said.
And Porter is not the only one who loves the product the sixth-graders put out once a month.
“My favorite part is probably like the younger grades’ reactions and how excited they are to see it,” she said. “When it goes out, they’re like ‘this is awesome.’ ”
Bozzuto, who was instrumental in the paper’s launch, said each teacher at Orchards receives five copies a month, but can request more. One third-grader gets her own issue monthly, after asking for it.
The February edition of the Orchards Elementary Tribune included information about hunting seasons, medical conditions and endangered animals. Students can pick any topic they are interested in.
“They get to share things they are passionate about, and they get to do things that make them feel special,” Bozzuto said. “It’s just so cool. It’s an opportunity to be heard, and we’ve gotten such great feedback from all the staff.”
Kaeden Tinney, 11, said he likes the freedom the paper provides him.
“It just allows people to write about what they like to write about and not what they are forced to write about,” Tinney said.
Tinney, who is an editor for the paper, also contributes to the sports page. He one day aspires to be a baseball player or a baker.
“I just find if there are fights or if someone fired their coach,” Tinney said. “Anything like that.”
For Tessa Williams, 11, her favorite part is designing the covers of the newspaper. The February edition included a heart-shaped rose she created with her friend.
“One of my friends drew it, and I painted over it,” Williams said. “I really like painting.”
Williams also writes for the paper. In the upcoming March edition, she wrote about pneumonia. The topic interests her because she hopes to become a nurse or a doctor.
Williams said she hopes the incoming sixth-grade class will continue the newspaper when her class moves on to junior high school.
“Our grade kind of started it, and it would be cool to see the fifth-graders from here kind of continue it, if they want to,” she said. “You kind of get to just see what’s going on around your school and kind of learn more about people.”
Her classmate Porter agreed.
“I hope it goes on and people are inspired by it,” Porter said.
Bozzuto said the effort to launch the newspaper went smoothly, in large part because of the “go-getters and group of leaders” in the current sixth-grade class.
Participation is not mandatory. Students can either work on the newspaper or read during the approximately 15 minutes spent a day on the project.
“I don’t know that we could have gotten this started with any other group of students,” Bozzuto said. “This is kind of a particularly special group of students. It’s really nice to have that start with these guys.”