Woodleaf students report the news

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 19, 2011

By Sarah Campbell
WOODLEAF — Fifth-graders at Woodleaf Elementary are trying their hand at reporting.
Teacher assistant Lynn Bernhardt launched the Woodleaf News, a monthly student newspaper, this year as a way to get students excited about writing.
“I’m hoping they learn writing skills and gain social skills through interviewing,” she said.
Bernhardt spent a decade composing ads at the Salisbury Post before switching to the education field. She spearheaded Knollwood’s Knightly News before moving to Woodleaf this year.
“I love doing it,” she said. “I still have that newspaper in my blood so I get the best of both worlds because I get to work with the kids on it.”
Bernhardt said the staff of six reporters rotates each quarter, with teachers from each of the three fifth-grade classes picking two students.
“They pick students who are responsible, dependable and reliable,” she said. “I think some of the kids that are picked aren’t really in the spotlight so they get to shine.”
Before issuing the story assignments, Bernhardt talks to each student individually.
“I ask them what they want to do because if they are not excited about it they are not going to put in 100 percent,” she said.
Bernhardt spends time teaching the students how to operate the school’s digital camera and giving advice about kinds of questions to ask.
Then, Bernhardt said, the students are responsible for conducting interviews, taking photos and turning in their stories before deadline.
“One goal is to expose these kids to newspapers in case they have an opportunity to participate in middle or high school,” she said. “This gives them a little background.”
Fifth-grader Nick Taylor interviewed his peers last week about their expectations for middle school.
“Are you ready? Are you afraid? What do you think sixth grade will be like,” he asked.
Fifth-grader Curtis Allman said he enjoyed covering the school’s talent show. He said he had been hoping to be selected to become a reporter the entire year.
“I was pretty excited because it’s something I really wanted to do,” he said.
Woodleaf Principal Susan Herrington said she’s been thrilled with the success of the Woodleaf News.
“Our students love reading the columns written by their peers. The reporters have been thrilled to cover events happening at Woodleaf for the news,” she said. “The staff has been thrilled with the results and the news allows us to connect with our students in a new and unique way.”
Herrington said Bernhardt has done an excellent job utilizing her expertise to serve as newspaper adviser.
“She has great patience with the reporters and encourages them to expand their writing abilities through use of their creativity and imagination,” she said. “We certainly could not produce the paper without her abilities.”
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.