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Sackets Harbor Central School plans student newspaper

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SACKETS HARBOR — The Patriot Prose, the school's first student newspaper, could be published as soon as March.

The monthly newspaper, which will be primarily online, will help students in all grade levels improve reading and writing skills while writing about topics in which they and their peers are interested.

“We're connecting this back to curriculum,” said Principal Jennifer Gaffney-Goodnough. “That's the whole point of it.”

One part of the English common core curriculum is to teach students how to write from primary and secondary sources and having students write newspaper articles in a class is a great way to do that, she said.

Newspaper coordinator and parent Emma G. Shirley said the topics the students will write about, such as technology, the military and movies, will make them enjoy reading what they produce.

“We're focusing on the students,” she said. “We want them to see that newspapers are fun, and not just the comics page.”

The idea to start a student newspaper arose after the school's Parent-Teacher Organization surveyed teachers about their most-wanted classroom items at the beginning of the year.

“What they found was that there was a demand for iPads in the building,” Ms. Gaffney-Goodnough said.

The school has 10 iPads now. Before the PTO tried to find a way to fund iPads, its members wanted to see if a project that used technology could be spearheaded.

Mrs. Shirley thought of a student newspaper less than a month ago.

In a matter of weeks, she created a pamphlet for teachers to start putting article ideas in the curriculum.

She also created a newspaper prototype, complete with an advice column and a technology opinion piece from her ninth-grade son, Joseph Shirley.

She will edit and lay out the first few issues but said she hopes a Patriot Prose newspaper club for upper elementary, middle and high school students will form to help her delegate some of those duties.

“I have no editing skills,” she said. “I wrote a master's thesis, and that's all I've ever published.”

For the youngest students who want to contribute, she said, she wants to do very little editing and might photocopy their work because their handwriting adds charm.

“It's sort of unique in that, from the youngest to the oldest, you can see the development from grade to grade,” she said.

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