HSJ Headline News
Banks students publish the Bobcat Beat
March 26, 2008
Students at Banks Middle School know a lot about stuffing the ballot box.
They've been doing it for about two years now.
But it's not an actual ballot box they are stuffing. It's a shoebox and, on the little stuffing slips, questions are scribbled about puppy love or puppy love lost or dozens of other things that interest and puzzle middle school-age kids.
The advice section of the Banks School Bobcat Beat is, perhaps, the most popular section of the student newspaper, but don't tell that to the reporters who cover the other beats.
"All of the students in the study skills class work really hard on the Bobcat Beat, and they all do a good job," said seventh-grade English teacher Latoya Gay. "We started the school newspaper last year because I thought it would be a good learning tool for the students, and it would also be a lot of fun."
The school newspaper is published each nine weeks and sells for 50 cents per copy. Last nine weeks, 55 of the school's 85 seventh- and eighth-graders bought a copy of the Bobcat Beat.
"We have sections for news, sports, features, entertainment and advice, as well as comic strips, photographs and artwork," Gay said. "I do the layout because of the time involved, but other than that, the students do all the work. It is their newspaper, and they take a lot of pride in it."
The study skills class has no set curriculum, but its emphasis is on the basic skills.
"The school newspaper gives us an opportunity to work on writing skills - grammar, spelling and punctuation - and a chance to look for and find interesting stories around the school and report on them," Gay said. "The students also work on their social skills during interviews, and we include charts and graphs, and that gives us a chance to work on math."
Artwork for the newspaper gives students a chance to let their creative juices flow and their imaginations soar.
"Some of the students really like drawing comic strips, while others enjoy photography," Gay said. "There are many opportunities that come with publishing a school newspaper.
Elizabeth Adamson and Lance Johnson have honed their leadership skills as editors of the Bobcat Beat.
"We have to check spelling, grammar and punctuation to make sure that it's right," Elizabeth said. "I like doing the features section and writing poems for the newspaper."
Lance said he likes searching for interesting sports stories and then reporting them.
"As an editor, I have to make sure that all the information is right," he said. "That's the main thing that I do besides check for mistakes."
Austin Rushing and Steven Rodgers are star reporters with a semester of experience under their belts. Both said they like to poke around looking for stories, and they enjoy interviewing other students.
The final edition of the 2007-08 Banks School Bobcat Beat is in the planning stages, and soon the study skills students will be out beating the bushes for good stories.
Copyright 2008, The Messenger. Reprinted with permission