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Elementary school reporters get the scoop

Returning to the roots of journalism, the students take turns coming up with the scoops.


Union-News Staff writer

CHICOPEE - Meet the faculty, take an MCAS quiz, read a joke, or, go right to the column that "exposes" what really goes on at Gen. John J. Stefanik School.

It's all in News Scoop, the K-5 elementary school's popular monthly publication, put together from start to finish by six young, enterprising fifth-graders and their editor and teacher, Mary Ann Siclari.

The school newspaper contains something for everybody and is circulated throughout the school, to all students, the School Department and to School Committee members.

This month's six-page edition includes a message from Principal Deborah Drugan, reminder messages from Assistant Principal Joanne Coach, a student survey, and articles in Spanish and English about current happenings in classrooms and about people in the school.

But. the most widely read is the column that "exposes" little known facts and goings-on, and is often, according to Siclari, the first item people turn to.

"I'd say it's the most popular. Teachers have said it's the first thing they turn to to see if their name is there," Siclari laughs.

Each month, she explained, two reporters are selected from the staff to scour the school building where kids don't usually go and "sniff out" the unusual or least known facts.

The results are listed in a column on the "Reporters' Page," and include things like, "Mrs. Coach has a bathroom in her office," or "Mrs. Pepin has Peter Pan action figures in her office," or this goody, "The custodian's storage room smells because of dirty mops and cloths."

Because of their "undercover" status, the names of the two reporters chosen could be any one of the six current staff reporters: Emily Corriveau, Carlos Cruz, Jennifer Collins, Jose Martinez, Meghan D'Angelo, or Kelsey Torres. The two chosen stay secret.

Taking a turn going undercover is everybody's favorite assignment, and for Emily Corriveau, 10, it's the best part of being on staff.

"I really like it," said Emily, who wanted to be a school reporter since the second grade. "It's fun and I like typing." But, the best part, she said, "... you get to go around and find out stuff about school that the other kids don't know."

Fellow reporter Meghan D'Angelo, 10, agrees. In an autobiography she is doing for an upcoming issue, she said, "We go behind the stage and be spies."

The school newspaper is celebrating its eighth year in publication.

Siclari, Title I reading teacher in Grades 4 and 5 and technical coordinator for the building, has been editor from the start when it was an after school activity. School budget cuts this year forced the activity to be rescheduled as part of the school day.

Siclari meets with the group twice a week for 45 minutes planning, assigning, researching, interviewing, writing and printing the final publication using the school's computers and special software. Siclari chooses a total of 12 Grade 5 student staffers, each of whom participates for a half year.

Every year, she said, she tries to improve the paper's content.

Right now, discussion at "editorial meetings" centers on designating staff photographers who will be using the school's two new digital cameras to take pictures to enhance the paper's news articles. Siclari said she and the staff are also talking about adding a crafts column about projects kids can do at home after school.

Carol Murphy can be reached at cmurphy@union-news.com.


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