Several years ago, before budget cuts forced school newspapers in Howell to stop publication, Gaylen Nolan was one of the leaders of the paper at Taunton School.
This year Nolan is back and as excited as ever to help her students report on everything going on in their school and their community. Even after a few years away from editing the student articles, she said she is glad to be back in the role she enjoyed so much. "It was a very positive experience so I was excited when they brought it back," she said. "I like the outside of school aspect and getting to know different kids besides just my students."
Having older versions of the paper, Nolan said she now enjoys comparing what the students did then to what they do now. Even in just a few short years, the veteran teacher said she has seen progression in their abilities and the tools they have at their disposal. "It's different in that we have new word processing programs to publish with and that we're doing it strictly online instead of a hard copy." Admittedly, she said that change is the hardest for her. "I like the hard copy," she said with a laugh.
Taunton is just one of the schools in the district to reinstate the school papers and Nolan said that has been a benefit for everyone involved. "I think it gives them an opportunity to be involved in the school in a way that they don't have many opportunities to do something outside of school," she said. "It gives them a unity and something to belong to and to be active."
She said it also ties into some of their lessons in the classroom including their work with the Leader in Me program. "They are taking charge and they're working together," she said. "Very few kids write on their own, they seem to partner with somebody. She also said that because the fourth and fifth graders are able to work together makes the experience that much more valuable for everyone.
The students also show enthusiasm for the project even after publishing just one edition. Fifth grader Alex Durocher said as a fan of sports teams like the Miami Heat, New York Yankees and New York Jets he would like the chance to write stories about them as part of his budding journalistic career.
Fellow fifth-grader Melissa Dinkel said she enjoys writing about current events at the school. She accomplished that in the last edition by writing a story about a project the fifth-graders did at the school. Knowing the people involved including the teachers and students, she said helped her to write a better story.
With plenty of coverage of news and sports events fifth-grader Callista Cannatelli likes to take a different angle to her writing. When given the choice she said she prefers to write about baking which is something of a passion of hers. Her favorite thing to bake, she said, is cookies of all shapes and sizes.
The students are looking forward to putting out two more editions before the school year ends. Unlike previous years the fourth graders will have another chance to help with the paper at their school next year while the fifth graders will take their talents to Middle School South.