Traditionally, most schools at the secondary level offer student newspapers as a class elective, an extracurricular activity or both. It is never too early to introduce students to the idea of a classroom or school newspaper, as this gets them into the habit of keeping up with current events and teaches research, interviewing and writing skills. School or class newspapers will necessarily vary by age group and goings-on in the school community, but certain features will likely be common from one paper to another.
Newspapers created by elementary school students might feature a section on classroom news (field trips, special guests, awards, parties, birthdays and so on) for each grade level. Teachers or administration might wish to contribute news items or photos. Student work can also be a regular feature, according to Pro Teacher. Try a poetry or short story edition, or include artwork.
Junior High/Middle School
Content at the Junior High or Middle School level should include more structure and be reflective of the ages and interests of the students. Pro Teacher suggests items such as cartoons, dedications, interviews, biographies, drawings, poetry, fiction and occasional brain teasers or puzzles. At this level, schools begin to offer membership in clubs and on sports teams, so more of the paper's content should feature current events. Students with an interest in photography should be encouraged to contribute photos that support the paper's content.
At the high school level, students should be featuring more nonfiction content and less "fluff" in their papers. This is a good time to include items on current events outside of school, says High School Journalism, and to teach students to write editorial "pro" or "con" items. Cartoons may also be editorial in nature. Photos may be special interest, but mostly should support content. Since most school budgets are not large, students may sell advertising space to pay for printing costs and also to promote activities and entertainment venues that will be of interest to student readers.
Student journalists at the secondary level may receive recognition annually through memberships in the National Scholastic Press Association and its branches, headquartered in each state. The school's journalism advisor serves as the contact point with the Scholastic Press Association(s). Students compete with other journalism students for awards in several areas. Categories for excellence in scholastic journalism include Cartooning, Design of the Year, Story of the Year, and Picture of the Year. Student groups have the option of attending conferences, award ceremonies and summer workshops, says the National Scholastic Press Association.
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