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Westridge elementary students try their hand at journalism thanks to parent volunteers

PMG PHOTO: CLAIRE HOLLEY - Lauren French and Channing Emmett browse the paper after school.Westridge Elementary students have a unique opportunity to share their writing with other elementary students through the school newspaper, "What's Up Westridge?" The newspaper club was recently re-energized by two parents who saw an opportunity to volunteer their time and talents.

Stefanie Fogarty co-leads the newspaper club with Sarah Barrera; both have children in second and fourth grade who are in the club.

"The newspaper is much better now that they are here," said Westridge student Carly Jordan.

The size of the club has nearly tripled. "There were only about ten students involved when we took over, and now we have 28," Barrera said. PMG PHOTO: CLAIRE HOLLEY - Abby Page and Gabi Kaplan read the recent issue of Whats Up, Westridge?

Newspaper club is sponsored by the Westridge Parent Teacher Organization. Students meet once a week, and produce a paper every two weeks. During the first meeting students receive their assignments, and at the second they edit their stories. "I taught the students how to proofread their stories and use copy editing symbols," Fogarty said. "I don't want it to feel like another class — I want to make them feel like they're becoming real journalists."

Westridge newspaper club member Sawyer Florschiem says her favorite thing to write is the "Guess Who?" article, in which student writers describe a teacher at the school and their peers guess who it is.

Students also enjoy writing about sporting events, restaurant and book reviews, and covering field trips and other school events, according to Barrera and Fogarty.

"I also like handing out the papers," Florschiem said. "A lot of students really like reading them."

"If students can't finish something by their deadline, they're always encouraged to turn it in later. A lot of students like working in pairs or group on stories," Fogarty said. "There are multiple ways to participate."

Westridge student Gabi Kaplan said she joined the club to improve and share her writing. "It's fun to meet new people and write stories. I want to be a writer when I grow up," she said. "I like to write stories that I come up with in my head, like a mini-series I wrote based on a dream I had."PMG PHOTO: CLAIRE HOLLEY - Some of the newspaper club members pose during a meeting. Back row from left: Kate Burnham, Channing Emmett. Front row from left: Abby Page, Lila Cevallos, Sloane Barrera, Carly Jordan, Gabi Kaplan.

Fellow writer Kate Burnham has a different goal: fame. "I want to be famous when I grow up, so I like that I'm showing my name to the entire school and putting myself out there," Burnham said. "I like to write what I think would be interesting for other people to read."

Neither Barerra or Fogarty have journalism experience, but that hasn't stopped them from fearlessly leading the newspaper. "It's a great way for me to be with my kids and get to know their peers," Barerra said. "The kids all seem to really enjoy it."

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