Friday, Sep. 28, 2012
Student newspaper receives nod for award
Young journalists learn newspaper production
By Bethany Bashioum
The student newspaper of Raymore-Peculiar East Middle School, has been nominated for one of the most prestigious student media awards in the country.
The East Edge, published 6-8 times a year, is one of two finalists for the 2012 National Scholastic Press Association’s Pacemaker Award.
“The kids last year were great, and they worked so hard,” said John VanPelt, faculty adviser of The East Edge. “I could call them up on a Saturday and they would show up – there were nights we were here until midnight, with no dinner, just trying to get the paper done. They wanted it to be the best that it could be.”
VanPelt learned of the nomination earlier this month.
Jeana Scott, Caleb Daniels, Guin Wright and Austin Meiron served as editors of The East Edge during the 2011-12 school year.
The students are now freshmen at Raymore-Peculiar High School.
The Pacemaker Award, a coveted prize in the realm of student media, is awarded annually to the top student-produced yearbooks, newspapers, magazines and websites, at the middle school, high school and college levels in the nation.
The other newspaper receiving a nomination is The Town Crier of Paul Revere Charter Middle School in Los Angeles.
The winner will be announced Saturday, Nov. 17, in San Antonio.
“It’s really exciting (to be nominated) because we put a lot of hard work into the newspaper,” Daniels said. “Not only do you have to be able to work hard, you need to be able to inspire others to work hard because if you don’t have a staff that wants to work, you won’t have a paper.”
Daniel’s co-editor, Scott, agreed.
“It’s such an honor to be nominated for this,” she said. “I remember that there were times I would stay after until 9 p.m. or midnight, working on this thing – trying to get it done. Now that we’ve been nominated, it (shows) that we really did put good work out and all those late nights were for something.”
Formally a newspaper reporter and editor, VanPelt is passionate for helping his students understand the vital role newspapers still have.
“With all the information that is bombarding students nowadays,” VanPelt said, “I think it is very important that they understand how a newspaper can serve a vital purpose of being a filter for what matters and what doesn’t.”
At East Middle School, VanPelt teaches seventh grade Mass Media, and eighth grade Newspaper Production and Yearbook Production.
Students in VanPelt’s newspaper production class are introduced to an array of journalistic concepts including story gathering, reporting, photography, editorial writing and layout design.
“I think it teaches them the value of storytelling and how people need to know what is going on,” VanPelt said. “I think it also teaches them the value of a free press in America, and how the newspaper can be a voice for the people.”
The experience of serving on the newspaper staff during middle school has already opened up opportunities for freshman students at the high school.
In what is typically reserved for upperclassmen, Scott and Daniels have already secured positions on the high school’s yearbook and newspaper staffs, respectively.
“(VanPelt) was spectacular at his job,” Scott said. “He has helped us to become the leaders in journalism, even where we are, because he was the one who made journalism fun and made people want to try-out for it.”