Helen Keller Middle School’s Newspaper Club published its first issue of the Keller Courier, a student-written and directed newspaper that focuses on a variety of topics not only about the school but the local Easton community as well.
“I wrote ‘Countries Throughout the World,’” said student Sammy Goldman. “It’s basically an article that goes alphabetically throughout different countries and covers basic information with a brief description. It’s nice that everyone in my grade can get access to the knowledge they might not have had before.”
Geography is only one of many sections that the paper has to offer. Other sections include school news, technology, politics, entertainment, sports, religion, and health, reflecting a variety of student interests in the club and appeal to a broad range of readers.
The 17 Newspaper Club members meet on most Tuesdays after school from 3 to 3:45 p.m. in teacher and club advisor Jennifer Burke’s classroom to discuss their progress for the next issue of the Keller Courier.
“A typical meeting starts with our two founders, Charles and Arjun, giving an introductory ‘this is where we’re at’ and ‘this is what we’re going to do today’ slideshow, and then we check in with everybody to help guide kids who aren’t sure what to write about,” said Burke. “The purpose of this club was to really give kids an opportunity to meet, get together, and find their niche.”
Burke is also guiding this next generation of student journalists through the writing and editorial process. “We’ve also been learning about bias in journalism, finding unbiased sources, how to write a story and citing their sources, but also finding things that interest them because it really is self-driven,” she said.
HKMS sixth-grader and Newspaper Club co-founder Charles Isaac Rabinowitz discovered his passion for news writing last year and has since gone on to write many stories, including a story about the November elections in Easton. He was able to interview local politicians and town leaders, including Selectwoman Kristi Sogofsky and First Selectman David Bindelglass.
“Being a leader in the club takes courage and bravery because I’m not the bravest person out there,” said Charles. “I hope students within the club have fun and gain more writing and creative skills and, for students outside the club, I want to open them up to this world of news and things that they didn’t know.”
The idea for the club was initially started by a petition written by Charles and Arjun Phatak, both sixth graders, who approached HKMS principal Dr. Stephen Clapp after collecting many signatures from fellow students.
“I was shocked that two kids came up with this proposal,” said Clapp. “It shows that they’re comfortable in both their skills as writers as well as proud of their school to get stories out there because that’s what they want to write about.
“Being able to apply all of these critical thinking skills in one setting where they can put it all together from visual arts to inquiry-based thinking through writing is so inspiring,” said Clapp.
With the first edition of the Courier consisting of 30 pages, it will be published on a bi-monthly basis both online and in print with versions available not only in English but in French and Spanish as well.
“People get to enjoy what we’ve written and enjoy something they might not have when they’re older because the world is changing like crazy,” said student Matthew Modafferi. “We don’t have stuff like this anymore, so it’s nice if we can start something up again and just maybe it’ll stick.”
The second edition of the Keller Courier will be published later this month.
Photos by Sophie Camizzi & John Kane