What makes for a good elementary school newspaper? What makes a great
one? I'd like to know what parents appreciate (and what they'll actually read). I'd like to know what you liked best when you were a student, either from a contributing or reading standpoint.
I'd like to know from school employees/authorities what one needs to be mindful of. And I'd be very glad to know of what I can do to avoid any problems. I'd like to know from teachers about what school newspapers can do for students; and what one could reasonably ask for from the various grades to allow for students to make contributions and so the content is balanced for all ages. I'd love to see links to anything inspiring, and to ideas for content and design and such. So, I'd like a lot of information about stuff I have an idea about, but not much practice with yet. And that's a lot to do with three double-sided pages, I know.
posted by peagood to media & arts (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
After three years of working to produce fundraisers for the Parent Council at our small, inner city school (Grades K-6, approximately 200 students), I'd like to do something else to be involved going forward. I'm burnt out, tired of asking for money and we have now built them as well-oiled machines that anyone else can run. Here's the novel, because this is how much time I have to put into things I care about:
In the past, we had a "newspaper" which came out five or six times each school year. Photocopied on 2-3 double-sided 8 1/2 X 11 coloured sheets, its content was comprised of messages from the Parent Council Chair and Principal; announcements of upcoming events and sports team successes; student contributions in the form of poems and drawings and sometimes fun features like an interview with a teacher or summer memories. This was compiled by one person who'd run around to gather the information, and who'd submit it to the Office Admin to put together and crank out. So, I know it can be done, and I'm even able to take the strain off the office except they'll probably need to proof for liabilities.
Last year, the Principal put out her own newsletter, so the Parent Council let the "news" lapse - we didn't have the volunteers for it anyway. It was missed, so I heard around the playground. I'm pretty sure the general population in our school would like having a little newspaper again - in part because a percentage of parents mentioned that four pages of nothing but words in comic sans from the Principal was tl;dr. (ahem)
I'd also say that from my perspective, what was missing or not working was that people like pictures and want their information in brief. (ahem, ahem) The Principal's newsletter was also directed to the parents, and while we have only a few ESL students, many of their parents, grandparents or other caregivers may have language barriers and it was just too much. I'd also say that part of the enthusiasm for the old paper came from students looking for pictures and mentions of themselves and friends, and parents sharing it with relatives if their child made a contribution (I did!). And while we're trying to be all eco-friendly and save paper and such, I think our school's community is still more comfortable with print-outs and I'll be asking for donations of recycled paper to print it on to keep the costs to the Parent Council down and to keep our EcoSchool rating up there (we already get donations of reams of paper from local businesses, and we have a closet full to start with). A local print shop helps us from time to time with posters, but likely I'll be cranking them out on the school's photocopier.
While all the information is available on the school's website, and though the Parent Council sends a weekly email to those who've signed up for it, few parents actually check the website; and while about half have signed up for the email, attendance at events and general involvement in the school was rather poor last year, when we'd been experiencing an upswing in years previous. The main purpose of the Parent Council is to facilitate communication between the parents and the school, and I'd like to try this since I have the time and resources and believe we could do better there. I also work in the school, so I have advantages in that too. The people that created and maintained the old newspaper have moved on from the school. This is a fresh start.
Over the summer I've looked at the binder containing four years' worth of newspapers that the Office Administrator kept, and mrgood (hegood?) is the guy to help me with the layout (he does enough of this for a living in terms of studio production, once specialized in pre-press and has a whaddyacallit journalism degree). I've figured that interested kids can show up and take a table with me once a week during the Breakfast Club, to keep it manageable, interesting, accessible and and to avoid scheduling meetings that require wrangling teachers - though we'll have the necessary contact and supervision and permissions of course. The school used to have a "Shutterbug Club" years ago - I thought I'd ask for donations of old point and shoot digital cameras (and we have one to offer) to sign out - though many kids have their own - to let the students photograph events. I know about the media releases - there's always a master list in the principal's office that would be checked before any image goes in it.
For September, I'd like to start with a masthead contest (there was one in the past) and the usual useful information, and the space for soliciting contributions from students.
In the future, I have ideas for features with their input, such as:
-"Caught You Being Good"
-"Way to Go" (for kids that accomplish something great outside of the school setting - or for teachers who do cool things like Dragon Boat racing in their spare time)
-Reviews of the Breakfast Club meals (or, would it be funny if kids wrote a restaurant-style review of their lunches?)
-a comic or drawing
-"Style Stars" (school "street fashion" blogging?)
and of course, I'll be asking students what they'd like to see in it.
But, please feel free to walk me through this. Advice on scheduling and soliciting contributions (and rejecting some) and yes... writing in brief... would be much appreciated. Thanks so much in advance, in hope of any help!