West Middle Schoolers publishing newspaper

       The Warrior is the name of the student newspaper started this year at West Middle School.

Six of the leaders of the recently started West Middle School newspaper are (from left) Rachel Ordille, Jonah Hunt, Marissa Quesada, Ozzy Craine, Jake Walker and Chloe Lewis. Meeting daily, the class is taught by English teacher Deborah Shipley. Two papers have been published so far.
Westside Pioneer photo

       “It's fun to interview people and find out what's going on,” said Marissa Quesada, one of the leaders of the staff of 20-plus students. “I like photography,” said Ozzy Craine. “I always like taking pictures.”
       Interestingly, an interview with those two and four other lead members of the staff revealed that they don't read newspapers much themselves. But they are enjoying publishing one of their own, they all indicated.
       Led by teacher Deborah Shipley, a three-year English teacher in her first year at West, the students have already published two issues this semester, with a third expected this month. “It's a learning experience for me,” said Shipley, who had never put out a newspaper before. Her goals are to help the students produce papers that are “informative and useful,” including an editorial page that allows students “to bring up concerns in a respectful way.”
       Also welcomed are various types of reviews, poems, stories and jokes. The Oct. 28 issue included mock classified ads. One described the merits of a “fine chair used by seven different hobos… You just have to make your body a W shape to be partly comfy and have only two nails piercing your spine.”
       Principal Clay Gomez said he supports the concept of a school newspaper. “I think it adds value in giving students a voice,” he said. “Certainly the kids in there are excited about it.”
       The class is offered during first period, when some West students who need extra help are given intervention in areas where they are having problems while, at the same time, students who are ready for other challenges - such as working on the newspaper - have chances to take “extension” classes in which they receive pass or fail grades, Gomez explained.
       Shipley said she has students from all three grade levels (6-8), with half of them sixth-graders. In all, there are four photographers, three cartoonists, and the rest editorial writers and reporters. Not all are inexperienced - two had worked on newspapers at their elementary schools, she said.
       Photo processing and layout (aided by templates) is accomplished on computers. District 11 production presses handle the printing, with funding costs covered by the school, Gomez said. Each issue, 300 papers are printed, then distributed to classrooms and well-traveled parts of the school.
       An upcoming issue, according to Shipley, will feature a story using interviews with students to find out how well the new configuration is working out this year, in which West Middle School is sharing its building with the new West Elementary.

Westside Pioneer article