GRAFTON— Inspired by her own love of journalism, Anna Jarvis Elementary School (AJES) Librarian, Ashley Knotts, began a new endeavor with fourth grade students during the 2019-2020 school year in the form of a school newspaper.
“I really loved journalism in high school and wanted students to have the same opportunity to start exploring the art of writing and reporting while in elementary school,” Knotts shared.
She took her vision to AJES Principal, Heather Sinclair, who was immediately on board with the school funding the idea, seeing a newspaper as another beneficial way to communicate with parents and keep them informed on all the happenings within the school.
Knotts was then on a mission to compile her first staff, allowing all interested fourth graders the opportunity to apply for one of several positions including, reporters to interview AJES staff members and write about school events, a photographer, book reviewer, comic strip designer and a student interested in creating a word search.
Additionally, Knotts filled several other writing that positions included the “Did You Know?,” “Slime/Craft” and Minecraft/Xbox columnists.
“I wanted to keep this project limited to only fourth grade students, that way the younger ones would see and say ‘Oh that’s something I want to work toward!’ Something they would have to look forward to trying out during their last year at AJ,” Knotts explained.
Once her crew had been selected, they were tasked with giving their newspaper a proper name. Each member came up with their own ideas and the top contenders were put to a vote, The AJES Scoop winning over the majority.
“The AJES Scoop was one of my name choices,” revealed “Did You Know?” columnist John Logan Jones. “I was pretty excited when it won the vote, and I was really happy to be a part of the first newspaper staff.”
The Scoop Crew, as Knotts refers to them, met once a week to receive their assignments for the monthly paper and check in with one another, to ask any questions or to share and discuss new ideas.
“Our weekly meetings took place in the mornings and were brief. Being a crew member required responsibility on their part because their assignments were not completed at school, but at home. It was up to them to meet the given deadline,” Knotts shared.
Along with teaching students responsibility and how to manage a deadline, working for the school newspaper also provided further academic benefits, with the crew learning how to attach word documents to emails, gather research, how to properly use and care for a school camera and presented the opportunity for students to expand their social skills when it came to conducting interviews.
The staff members were also responsible for assisting Knotts in the monthly folding and distribution of the production.
According to Knotts, those within the school were very receptive of the newly developed newspaper saying, “The kids and staff totally loved it! With the word search being a favorite among the staff.”
Unfortunately, the Scoop Crew, like most others, were affected by the outbreak of the Coronavirus and were unable to meet beyond March. However, that didn’t stop this dedicated crew from fulfilling their duty to deliver the news to their fellow classmates.
Knotts expressed her desire to finish out the school year with their last two editions being in April and May, and her dedicated team was right behind her, emailing in their completed pieces so that Knotts could produce a digital copy of the AJES Scoop for students and staff to enjoy, as the school year came to an end.
“I have been really impressed with this year’s crew. We were hit with the unexpected, but they remained focused. I knew I could count on them,” she voiced.
While the year may not have ended the way it was pictured to, and their time together was cut short, members of the AJES Scoop crew unanimously enjoyed their time and experiences gained from working for the school’s newspaper.
“It was a great experience and fun! I had wonderful co-workers and the best boss. It was really great to get to take pictures of the field trips,” commented AJES Scoop photographer Ciarra Spring.
The Scoop’s book review writer Jackson Hildreth also expressed that working with fellow crew members and Knotts was a pleasurable experience.
“I wanted to be a member of the paper, because my mom writes for a newspaper too. It turned out to be a really fun experience that allowed me to put my love of reading to use by sharing information about good books with my friends,” he shared.
Now that the crew has wrapped up the school year, Knotts is once again looking for incoming fourth graders at AJES to fill the positions of this past year’s paper, as well as a couple of new ones.
She disclosed that although she plans to keep the previous positions she is hoping to add additional reporter slots and is also looking for an artist to draw pictures that can be colored in by students.
Any incoming AJES fourth grader that would like to vie for their chance to be part of the 2020-2021 Scoop, parents can send an inquiry to Knotts via email at [email protected] and she will send the link for an online application.
“I am going to miss this year’s crew for sure. They were my originals and will always be special to me. The middle school doesn’t have a school newspaper but, maybe our journey will inspire them to get one going! I am also looking forward to working with a new group of students and continuing to share my love of journalism,” expressed Knotts.