Young journalists relax after the final edition

June 14, 1994|By Traci A. Johnson | Traci A. Johnson,Sun Staff Writer

Maggie Wunderlich and Kristen Trumpler scrolled through the copy on the computer screen, just as they had during the past six months of editing Freedom Elementary School's bimonthly newspaper.

But this day they were in no hurry. There were no deadlines to meet or reporters to hound for late copy to fill the pages of the Freedom News. Now it was just fun -- the last issue of the year had been put to bed.

"We had a good time," Kristen, 10, said Friday of her job as co-editor of the paper.

"Yeah," Maggie agreed. "But, it was a lot of work, too."

Maggie and Kristen participated in a program created from a partnership between their school and London Fog. About 14 London Fog employees have been mentors to 13 Freedom students since December.

Evelyn Gold, a customer service representative, and Wendy Carey-Leppo, a staff accountant, have been supervising Maggie and Kristen as they worked on their newspaper project.

"They are so enthusiastic, and they are so artistic and creative, too," Ms. Gold said of the newspaper's fourth-grade staff, "especially Maggie and Kristen."

Kristen and Maggie explained their news-gathering techniques in the same tag-team manner they used to edit their product.

"What we did was get with Ms. Wendy and Ms. Evelyn and decided what kinds of things we wanted in our newspaper, like news, sports and comics. Then people volunteered to do it," Kristen began.

"Sometimes, people would forget they were writing them," Maggie interjected. "We had to remind them."

"Yeah," Kristen continued. "Then, we edited them to make sure it had correct spelling, and then we gave them to Ms. Wendy and Ms. Evelyn to edit them some more."

Articles included interviews with teachers and news about sports, including an Orioles update and features on Freedom's sports events. One edition had a story on speed skater Dan Jansen's gold medal victory in Lilliehammer.

Fourth-grader Ashley Doerr created word searches for each edition and Kacy McAllister wrote mysteries featuring Detective Ken U. Solve-it.

Kelli Walker demonstrated how to create a design using straight and diagonal lines.

Poems by Nicole Keller and comics by Tim Chambers provided lighter reading subjects.

There were no job descriptions to limit the editors' creativity. Maggie and Kristen also wrote stories and headlines and advertised for new staff writers.

Kristen even wrote an advice column -- as "Smartypants."

Smartypants advised Worried (whose sister "is a pain in the butt" for entering her room uninvited) to lock her door and give her parents a special knocking code so Worried will let them in.

"I make them up myself," said Kristen, proudly. "I wrote a column once before and got real problems. This way is easy."

The girls have found that some things about running a newspaper are not so easy. "Sometimes we had to return articles because we asked them to do one thing and they turned in something else," Kristen said. "We couldn't use it."

"And sometimes we had to give the articles back because the event had already happened," Maggie said.

And, of course, the writers and editors had a few differences. "One time, Kacy [McAllister] did a Ken U. Solve-it, but the code was so hard we had to change it," Maggie said, as Kristen nodded agreement.

"Yeah, but then it was too easy," said Kacy, 10. "It was a number code, but the other one was a letter code."

"But we couldn't even do it," Kristen told her.

"You have to make it so people can do it," said Sarah Kraig, another staff writer. "But it has to be

challenging enough for the fifth-graders."

Kristen said she could see herself working in journalism.

"I'd like to be a sports person [writer] because I like sports a lot," said Kristen, who would love to be an Oriole bat girl.

Maggie said she's not sure that she'd like to be an editor.

"I'd like to be a reporter, get the information and things because I like to write," Maggie said.

Among the many travails of running a major elementary school bimonthly, the girls found that "the hardest part was getting them [students] to hand in stories on time," Kristen said. "We needed it so we could edit it."

"Yeah, and another hard part was getting finished before it was time to be printed," Maggie added.

But they agreed that delivering the papers was the best part of the job.

Why?

"Because we got to miss class."

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