MIDDLEBURY -Five students from Beeman Elementary School in New Haven visited the office of New Market Press, publisher of the Eagle and Rutland Tribune on Dec. 2. The students, in the fifth and sixth grades, are part of a six-week-long apprenticeship program in journalism. The teacher coordinator of the program is Annette Carter.
"I am learning a lot about newspapers here. We're working on a tabloid and class newspaper," said Morgan Pratt, a sixth grader at the school. "I am very excited about it."
Students were introduced to Eagle Office Manager Leslie Scribner and Louis Varricchio, managing editor, of the newspapers.
Varricchio discussed how newspapers are created, how freelance photographers and writers interact, how editorials are submitted, and how advertising generates all funds needed for producing and distributing free-circulation newspapers.
Students had various comments about the apprenticeship experience:
"The reason we're here is that we want to get better at writing," said Danielle Morse, a sixth grader.
"Well, I am learning about how to form my writing and make it exciting. My goal is to be more expressive in my writing," said Jackie Reiss, a fifth grader.
"I love to write a lot and elaborate on my work. I want to make my work more interesting and make people want to read it," said Alicia Stone, a sixth grader.
"I like to write, too, because it's fun. I like to write about what happens to me, so I keep a journal," said Ellie Gevry.
Students planned to take information gleaned from their tour of the weekly newspaper office and write articles about their visit. Next, the students plan to create a school newspaper as part of the apprenticeship experience.
"We're using newspapers as part of the program to match students to both their needs and strengths," said Carter. "The students are powerful writers and that's why we want to fine-tune their skills. It's challenging to form habits of good writing in six weeks. A major emphasis is that we don't use dead words, dead verbs-we like to say that we 'put them to rest.'"
The apprentices also learned about the editorial management software the editor uses to upload breaking news text and photographs to New Market Press's multi-state newspaper website.
A draft story about the students newsroom visit was written by the students and Eagle staffers and placed on the website at www.denpubs.com under the banner heading "newspapers". The story appeared on both The Eagle and Rutland Tribune landing pages for the students and public to view.
The apprenticeship program's mission statement requires students to sign contracts to meet various goals which include news writing, writing style, teamwork, work responsibility and self direction. The students will also manage the creation of two new school publications, according to Carter.