In this day and age of decreasing newspaper circulation and increased reliance on the internet and social media for news, there is a small but dedicated group of young people who still believe in newspapers.
Four boys, all fourth-graders at Brookfield Elementary School, said they doubt the timeliness or credibility of news stories that can be read online.
“There might be different stuff,” Brayden Reed said in support of newspapers.
The boys have created their own newspaper for the school called What’s Happening! Brookfield Elementary News. They said Judah DeJoy came up with the idea, which Judah said was something he read about in a book.
“I thought, ‘That’s pretty cool,’” Judah said. “I thought we should have one. I told Tyler (Miller) and then we told Brayden and then we told John Brenner and it all came together.”
Judah said he believed the paper would be read because “There are some people in the school that want to know more about our school.”
The boys approached their principal, Stacey Filicky, and she had them run it by school Superintendent Velina Jo Taylor.
The first edition came out in February with stories about the students of the month for December and January; comprehensive testing; new students; basketball tournaments; baseball and softball league enrollments; and even a mini-editorial and call-out for reader input.
“Fourth grade is hard!” the boys state. “Did you think it would be hard or did you think it would be easy? Let us know your opinion and you may make the next edition!”
The boys work on the paper one or two days a week under the guidance of Jay Bodnar, their physical education teacher.
Bodnar said he helps them decide what is appropriate for the paper, offers suggestions for details, and makes sure they are writing in complete sentences.
“They’re doing all the work,” Bodnar said.
The boys said they talk to students and teachers to drum up stories.
“We just go around asking people if they know anything we don’t,” Brayden said.
The boys judged the first issue a success based on the number of copies sold – about 100, requiring a second printing – and the $30 raised from the 10-cent newsstand price. The money goes to the school for field trips or other special activities.
“It makes me feel like we accomplished something,” John said.
“We’re helping people,” Tyler said.
Reader response has been great and the editors have been approached about adding a joke and cartoons to future editions, which will come out about once a month.
The editors have already talked to middle school Principal Toby Gibson about starting a middle-school newspaper when they move up a grade next year, and setting the groundwork for What’s Happening! to continue after they have left.
“We thought of bringing a few third-graders at the end of the year, telling them and let them do it when they’re in fourth-grade, and then they can do that to the second-graders and they can do it to the first and so on and so forth,” John said.
The boys have inspired a group of third-graders to start a Sign Club, in which students make signs with positive, anti-bullying messages and safety reminders, Filicky said.
“I think it’s amazing,” she said of what her paper boys have accomplished. “Anytime a student wants to go and do something different, I’m going to run with it.”