Students at KIPP Northeast Denver Middle School are making their voices heard in the school’s student newspaper, the Mountain Lion Weekly. Written and distributed by a class of fifth through eighth grade students, the newspaper teaches KIPPsters about journalism and publishing.
Students conduct brainstorming sessions, story pitches, and research on topics of their choosing, and are in charge of coordinating interviews, meeting deadlines, and distributing their published material on Friday mornings.
Ulises, an eighth grade KIPPster says producing a newspaper is challenging work, but that creating something that other students benefit from makes it worth it.
“I think it’s cool because everybody reads it and is interested in it,” he said. “The first time we did it we didn’t think anybody would read it, but when we walked into class to deliver the newspaper, everybody raised their hand to get one.
For eighth grade students Nayeli and Meagan, The Mountain Lion Weekly offers a way to directly address student experiences.
“We like to write how-to’s from experience,” said Meagan. “This week we wrote about how to manage your emotions.”
Students collaborate to make sure their pieces are responsive to the needs of their student body.
“What we write in our newspaper doesn’t just help us,” said Nayeli. “It helps other people, and that’s an awesome feeling.”
Students also build a dialogue about current events that impact their daily lives including the denuclearization of North Korea, marriage equality, and pollution. They work 3 days a week before their publishing deadline to produce reports, columns, reviews, opinion pieces, how-to’s, comic strips and more.
The newspaper class believes meeting the demand for news and current events for students in their school can only be done by the students themselves.
“I don’t think kids would think it was cool if teachers wrote it, or if it was only one grade writing it,” said Ulises. “So all grades and their opinions are represented in our paper.”