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Student-produced newspaper keeps Harry Hoag Elementary in-the-know

Students are gaining valuable future-readiness skills as they experience the thrill of seeing their names in print on a finalized product.

students seated at laptops in an elementary school computer lab
Sixth graders on ‘Team Tech’ produce a monthly student newspaper at Harry Hoag Elementary. They collaborate and learn digital skills. From the left are Ezra Brown, Noah Fonda and Dylan Jones.

Extra, extra, read all about it! Sixth graders are helping their peers at Harry Hoag Elementary School stay in-the-know with the publication of a monthly student newspaper.

students seated at laptops in an elementary school computer lab
McKenna Karker, Grace McFee and Isaac Clark hard at work on the January edition.

The “Hilltopper Herald” is written and produced by a group of Matt Heiser’s technology students known as Team Tech. Students are gaining valuable future-readiness skills as they experience the thrill of seeing their names in print on a finalized product.

“The first time I saw the finished newspaper, I thought it was awesome,” student Ezra Brown said. “My favorite part is how people are learning about me; both my friends who I work with, and the people who read the newspaper.”

students seated at laptops in an elementary school computer lab
Trentin Congdon, Isis Hammond and Ian Burns in the “newsroom,” also known as teacher Matt Heiser’s computer lab.

The work is just like that of a real-life printed publication. Students do the leg work of writing questions, conducting interviews and taking photographs. Then they use laptops, computer programs and applications to write their stories, upload pictures and design their pages. Once it has been edited, the paper is printed and students fold the pages to create a final product.

“Creating the newspaper is an authentic experience for the kids,” Heiser said. “They’re developing collaboration and digital skills.”

It’s also a creative outlet for the kids. Each 32-page paper is chock-full of work that was created by the students — photographs, fictional stories, news articles, fake ads and fun features that are timely and reflect the season. For instance, the October edition included a Trick or Treat Safety article by Madison Clayburn, a movie review of “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” a spooky ghost story by Jacob Herringshaw and a review of the Harry Hoag Open House by Kimberly Kirby.

There are also coloring sheets, opinion articles, jokes, tech tips, video game reviews and an advice column called “Dear Jessica.” There is even a mailbox outside of Heiser’s classroom where people can leave their letters seeking advice.

Each student has a role in creating the content. For example, Brown is a sports writer and the team’s photographer. Kirby is an interviewer and writer. And every team member has a role in the newspaper layout, designing their own pages.

“My favorite things about working on the newspaper are getting to write, work with my friends and make new friends,” Kirby said.

“I’m learning about the basics of using a camera and I learned how to upload the pictures from the camera to the computer,” Brown said.

Participation in Team Tech is a voluntary extracurricular activity. Students can spend their free class periods in Heiser’s technology classroom and contribute to the newspaper.

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