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New community newspaper to be offered at RMS next year

| April 24, 2018

WEST LAFAYETTE – When it was announced that Ridgewood Middle School would be offering a new after-school newspaper class next school year, students swarmed the office for a chance to sign up. By the time the buses left the building, 24 students had expressed interest in participating in the school newspaper.

The program is part of the Scripps College of Communication Fellowship Award which is a statewide award from Ohio University. This year, 30 to 35 schools applied and Ridgewood Middle School was one of nine schools awarded. The award included $1,000 for the program and a $1,500 stipend for teacher Christopher McVay, Middle School Tier II Intervention, who is heading the project.

The $1,000 award will help purchase equipment needed for the paper including a new computer, a television that will be located in the cafeteria and will stream the paper during lunch and at school events, a year of Adobe Creative Suite for editing, and provide reimbursement to print the paper on the school copier.

In addition to the award and stipend, the award also includes four free credit hours of continuing study offered from Ohio University, mentorship with the Scripps College of Communication to help the project succeed, and being named as a Scripps College of Communication Fellow.

One of the restrictions of the award is that each teacher must implement a new program that focuses on communication in some form.

“We don’t have anything at this level to get kids interested in writing beyond their schoolwork,” said McVay. “I wanted something that would use the skills they are learning and getting their voice out into the community.”

Currently, 29 students have signed up for the program that will be implemented at the beginning of the 2018 – 2019 school year. They will be responsible for every aspect of the newspaper with features that include local news articles, comics, and the weather report. McVay is hoping to begin the school year with doing school-based articles, but is hopeful that once they get their feet wet in the industry, they can expand out into the community and cover community events.

The paper will be out every month to begin with. McVay said they may expand to twice a month, but no more.

“I think it’s great for them to see that what they’re learning actually applies to the job field,” said McVay. “You can put your message out; you can change our community and keep the community involved. That strengthens our community. Also, I want them to realize this form of communication is not dead.”

McVay hopes to have advertising slots in each issue that will be offered to community businesses, but that idea is still pending.

In addition to the printed product, there will also be an online blog featuring the students’ work. McVay is in the process of collaborating with all three schools and between the middle school and the high school, six to seven staff members are contributing to the project.

Currently, McVay hopes the students will meet periodically throughout the month to discuss story ideas and then chose stories from their brainstorming sessions.

“I’m hoping they take away that there is community here and even though they might feel a part from the community at times, they are very much involved in the community,” said McVay. “We’re here as a unity and the stories they think are important are important. There are other people out there with the same kind of interests. It’s also an opportunity for students who are a little bit quiet and reserved to be a part of something.”

The newspaper is set to debut in September and McVay hopes to circulate them around the West Lafayette community at different locations.

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Category: Education

About the Author ()

I have been employed at the Coshocton County Beacon since September 2009 as a news reporter and assistant graphic artist. I am a 2004 graduate of Newcomerstown High School and a 2008 graduate of Capital University with a bachelor’s degree in Professional Writing. I am married to John Scott and live in Newcomerstown. We have two beautiful daughters, Amelia Grace Scott and Leanna Rose Scott.

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