Havencroft Writers Capture Events in School Newsletter

Feb. 6, 2017 ~ Once a week, nine cub reporters at Havencroft Elementary School gather to brainstorm and work on the next issue of their fledgling newspaper. The debut issue of "Bird's Nest News" rolled off the presses before Thanksgiving and the second issue went home with students by Semester Break.

All of these students, from second through fifth grade, are founding members of Havencroft's after-school Journalism Club. They were recommended to the club by teachers who knew of their writing talents.

"This club gives students who love to write an opportunity to write for a different purpose and audience," second-grade teacher Kris Falen said. "It also gives the student body a newspaper geared toward them, with information and fun facts that are specific to our school."

Falen, art teacher Anna Huelskamp, and speech-language pathologist Carma Cervetti sponsor the club. Huelskamp and Falen work together on the school yearbook and knew they could work well as a team on developing a school newspaper.

"Kris came to me with the idea about doing a journalism club and wondered if I would be interested in helping. She thought I could add that creative element," Huelskamp said. "I have enjoyed working with these young writers and have been quite impressed by their skills. I know some of our journalists are also creative as artists. One student has been drawing comics in art class and it only made since to have him add that to our paper."

The two-page "Bird's Nest News" includes a cartoon, stories about major school events, a reader's poll, and photographs. Falen and Huelskamp helped students learn about the proper way to frame photos using their school iPads.

"Eventually I would like to purchase cameras for the students to use instead of iPads, so we have better quality photos," Falen said.

"I worked with the kids on how to get good pictures, like taking several to have options, looking for different perspectives, and how to avoid background mishaps," Huelskamp added.

"It's pretty cool to see our students taking pictures at events and then writing a newsletter that goes out to the school," Principal Aaron Miller said.

Falen and Huelskamp have both seen changes in their young writers/photographers. Falen noted an increase in their confidence during interviews and while taking photos.

"I had one classroom teacher tell me how excited the student in her classroom is about being a journalist," Huelskamp added. "The student can hardly wait to share what we did the day before in our club."

Art teacher Anna Huelskamp talked with two Journalism Club members about their writing assignments. She also helps young artists who want to create a cartoon or other artwork for the school newspaper. Art teacher and students
Although students in the Journalism Club don’t use their school iPads for writing assignments, they are often used to take photos of school events or even shared notes from someone else’s notebook. “We taught the students initially to carry their notebooks with them everywhere so they have it anytime they get an idea or need to interview someone,” club sponsor Kris Falen said. Student reads through her notes

Carma Cervetti, speech-language pathologist, is one of the three staff members who assist with the Journalism Club. She and a student writer reviewed a rough draft of an article for “Bird’s Nest News.” Next year the Journalism Club may meet more often at the beginning so students can get into the writing faster, club sponsor Kris Falen said. She and the other sponsors are considering adding more student journalists in the future.

Speech-language pathologist and student collaborate
The Journalism Club was started when second-grade teacher Kris Falen had the idea to give young writers a chance to expand their talents while providing a newspaper geared toward the entire student body. She talked with two girls about what type of questions they were going to ask in an upcoming interview for an article. Teacher and writers brainstorm

The newly-formed Havencroft Journalism Club provides press passes for each writer/photographer, and a reserved seating sign to help them get a good seat at school events. “I think the kids are excited about having their own press pass,” club sponsor Anna Huelskamp said. “I believe it makes them feel more professional. We came up with the passes as a way for the building to know that the kids were out on an assignment.”

Photos by Marlene Colgan
Havencroft Journalism Club