BURLINGTON — What started out as West View Elementary School classmates drawing comic strips has evolved into something more — the school’s own monthly newspaper, with a twist.
Because West View is a dual-language school, the newspaper — the Bobcat Gazette — is printed in both English and Spanish.
“So people who are learning English could read the Spanish side,” said Iliana Lopez, one of the sixth-graders behind the paper’s founding. “I like sharing stories with people and I thought it would be even cooler to share with the school.”
Since October, the fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade students have been taking turns drawing, editing, interviewing and taking photos for their newspaper, which comes out once a month.
“I love that it was student driven,” said Principal Tamara Skeen. “They had the idea, they advocated for it. This is what we want at school — kids with ideas.”
For each issue of the newspaper, students take turns editing, writing and doing interviews. They do their part in either English or Spanish, then translate it to the other language.
“I like to write in English and Spanish,” said fourth-grader Lucia Rodriguez. “I like to talk to other people about what they like and what they do.”
Lucia, 10, had about 15 questions written in her spiral notebook in preparation for her next interview — with the second-grader who won the contest to come up with a name for the newspaper.
In November, members of the newspaper club attended a Burlington-Edison School Board meeting, where Lucia interviewed board president Rich Wesen.
“I made (the board members) laugh,” she said.
Wesen said it was good to see the students not only practicing their writing, critical thinking and translating skills, but to see them enjoying it.
“It’s exciting to see that they’re doing programs like that,” Wesen said. “One of the things they’re trying to do with deeper learning is get kids involved with things they’re excited about. All those kids were excited, and that’s what I like to see.”
Students had to apply to be part of the club.
“They had to be responsible, immaculate (and) honest,” said sixth-grader Erykah Livingston-Haggard, who co-founded the club with Iliana.
Erykah said she and Iliana wanted to start the newspaper to inform their classmates and the families of the school’s students about what was going on at the school.
“We decided we needed to do something special that could carry on,” she said.
As sixth-graders, Erykah and Iliana are in their last year at West View. They hope the younger students will keep the newspaper going.
So far, the club’s members all seem excited.
“I think I have special talents,” said 10-year-old Jose Lopez, who is currently on the newspaper’s editing and photography teams. “And I wanted to bring news to West View.”
The club is good for the school community too, said teacher Lauren Hyman, one of the mentors for the club.
“They can take it home and share it with their families,” Hyman said.
Other Burlington-Edison schools have started taking note of the newspaper, said club adviser and teacher Anne Jones.
“I love empowering students,” she said. “We’re an ‘inquiry district,’ and I can’t think of anything better.”