Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Two Schools, One Goal

It isn’t too often that fifth-graders’ find themselves publishing and reading their own work in print. But that is the case at Thornwood Elementary where 10 graduating students have started what may be the first student-run, elementary school newsletter in Spring Branch ISD.
Eager to learn about the field of journalism, the Thornwood staff walked over to Stratford High School on Feb.12 to spend a day working with Stratford newspaper and yearbook staffs. In addition, the students had the opportunity to speak with and interview Houston sports journalist Jerome Solomon. 
As a columnist for the Houston Chronicle and ESPN radio show host, Solomon has won numerous awards for his columns, feature stories and investigative journalism. Solomon graduated from the University of Texas with a bachelor of science degree in engineering, but later decided that the field wasn’t “spontaneous” enough for him.
Sponsored by The Houston Chronicle, ESPN, Asian American Network (ANN) and Scholtsky’s deli, the day started with three rotating sessions, one for each main category of journalism offered at Stratford: newspaper, photography and yearbook.
Speaking with various Stratford staff members, Thornwood students asked questions about finding compelling stories, editing photos, designing layouts and developing innovative ideas. They also learned about the publishing process for the Stratford newspaper and yearbook.
When rotations were completed, both Thornwood and Stratford students gathered to learn how to properly interview sources and develop good questions to ask Jerome Solomon. Kali Venable, who is an editor-in-chief of “The Oracle” newspaper, led this session.
Solomon shared with the students how he got started in the field and answered their interview questions in a conversational manner. He also gave students advice on entering the journalism industry through anecdotes of his personal experience as a professional journalist.
“Journalism is very important to me. It is my passion, my job and what some people think I do very well. I came to this event because I think it is crucial that young people see how promising this field can be,” Solomon said.
Chris Kwon of ConocoPhillips Asian American Network (AAN), one of SBISD’s recently formed mentor partnerships, organized the event. Kwon heard about the Thornwood newsletter at a Thornwood Elementary Campus Improvement Team (CIT) monthly meeting and was immediately drawn to the newsletter staff.
“I was inspired by the story of 10 kids starting a newsletter at such a young age, and I really wanted help make a relationship between the Thornwood students and the Stratford journalism department because both groups share many of the same passions,” Kwon said.
“Going forward I think that these students can continue to learn from each other and build upon this relationship. I hope that hearing someone like Jerome speak has put the field into perspective for students here today.”
The Thornwood newsletter staff is planning on meeting again with Stratford’s student journalists in the near future.
Thornwood newsletter staff members include Rocio Amaro, Daniel Francis, Sierra Hayes, Tyler Harris, Katy Leon, Jillian McLarrin, Jazybel PazMartines, Rome Proffitt and Julianne Rovira.To visit the Thornwood newsletter click here
Stratford senior and Communications Dept. Intern Kali Venable wrote this story. 


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