Newsletter may help bridge cultural gap Old Mill High students open window to the world

April 17, 1996|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,SUN STAFF

They come from six countries and speak limited English, but 10 Old Mill High School students hope that won't keep them from sharing their thoughts and cultures with their American classmates.

The students, members of the English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) class, are reaching out through their four-page newspaper, Voice of ESOL.

"These ESOL students are really interested in sharing information about themselves and their home countries and this has given them an opportunity to do so," said Cathy M. Nelson, their teacher and adviser. "Often times they're not asked, and it gives them a chance to share with the rest of the student population."

The staff comes from Lithuania, Mexico, South Korea, Thailand, Pakistan and Egypt.

The Voice was inspired by Ram International, an ESOL newspaper at Rockville High School. The idea was passed along in October and not long after that, the Old Mill students began working on their newspaper.

For guidance, they turned to members of the Patriot Echo, Old Mill High's student newspaper, and its adviser, Dr. Elizabeth P. Mitchell.

"We just thought it would be a great thing to work with them and teach them what's up," said Erin Sanders, 16, a Patriot Echo reporter.

Yesterday, the classroom was a whirl of activity as the students rushed to make deadline for getting the newspaper to J&S Printing, Inc. in Birmingham, Ala.

They cut and pasted stories and photos, filled blank spaces with art and made last-minute changes.

"Here guys, we need clip art, like now," barked Erin as she rushed into a room where Patriot Echo reporter Kara Altevogt and editor-in-chief Matthew Ouslander worked at a computer.

As quickly as she rushed in the room, Erin hurried back out and yelled to Dr. Mitchell, "What size do we need?"

"Two-quarters [inches] by three," replied Dr. Mitchell, as she helped others paste-up stories.

"We need to fill up some white space," Erin explained.

To her left stood Edita Krunkaityte, an 18-year-old from Lithuania, who fretted over which art to use to accompany a front-page story about a field trip to Arlington Echo in Millersville.

The first edition of Voice, circulation of 250, will go on sale April 24 for 50 cents a copy at a multicultural fair in the school's gym. It features profiles on ESOL students and editorials about wearing school uniforms.

The Voice also features articles written by ESOL students in five other Anne Arundel County high schools, including stories about Ramadan, a Muslim celebration of prayer and fasting, and the difference between schools in Poland and the United States.

Although it has been fun working on the Voice, none of the students aspires to pursue a journalism career. They said they'd prefer to study international relations, engineering or nursing.

Ms. Nelson said working on the newspaper has been a learning experience for her and her students because none of them have ever worked on one.

"I think we could definitely do another [edition] in the fall. I feel more confident having now gone through this once."

Pub Date: 4/17/96

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