The WMS Press, the Middle School’s Newspaper, Launches First Edition
Yesterday, the Owl was mucking about on Facebook and happened to notice a notification on the Weston Middle School facebook page that a new newspaper had launched at the Weston Middle School. This link will take you to the WMS Press, and you just have to be as impressed (no pun intended) as the Owl was at the level of reporting by these sixth, seventh and eighth graders. Plus they have mad grammar skills. I, on the other hand, am always confused on commas and will put them anywhere allowed or not allowed:; there is the Oxford comma and then there is the Owl comma which is quite literally, everywhere, sprinkled about like pellets. I also super love a run-on sentence and frequently get caught in digressions. Never mind.
Please take a look at this wonderful student-led endeavor called the WMS Press which is filled with news of Middle School field trips and activities, sports reporting, profiles of administrators and even an advice column.
Because the time of year is what it is, there was no chance the Owl was going to be able to find these kids for a bit of in-person interviewing, but she did catch up with Linda Oshman, WMS English teacher (and yes, she lucked out with both owlets) by email to ask a few questions:
Owl: When did the WMS Press start?
Oshman: During J-Term [Ed: a week-long special project/course in June] in 2023, Jennifer Barry, Stacy Martin and I ran a newspaper course that taught students the basics of writing in a journalistic manner. During that week, several seventh graders asked if we could continue this activity in the fall, and after much consideration, we decided to make it happen.
Although the middle school has had literary publications in the past, they have been spotty and consisted of student writing such as poems and short stories. The focus of the the MS Press—the name of the school “paper”—is for students to write factual articles focused on their interests and on the goings-on of the middle school.
Stacy Martin and I launched this after-school club/activity at the start of October 2023. At that time, approximately 8 students showed up. There are now about 18-20 reporters attending this club, but it seems to grow every week! Students first published their work on November 8.
Is this an afterschool club or is part of a class?
The newspaper club meets on Wednesdays right after school until 4:20. Students are welcome to join at any time, since publishing is ongoing.
How often will there be new articles?
Because the publication is online, students may publish their articles as they are completed. This makes it easier for our busy students as they don’t have to necessarily worry about a deadline; however, most students complete their articles and publish within three to four weeks. Once they’re done, they can move onto their next article.
Is there a print version of the WMS Press?
There will be no print version of the news. In addition to costs, having a paper version would put more pressure on students to meet deadlines and that’s not the point of this club. We want to give students the leverage and opportunity to work at their own pace. Also, because there is no paper version, students can publish their work when it’s ready rather than waiting for a specific deadline.
How does the “editorial board” decide on which issues to cover?
Students are responsible for all ideas and articles written. They choose their topics, they conduct the research, they write their articles, and editors help with the editing. The group has a shared document into which they type all their story ideas as well as the name of the person or persons who will work on them. Sometimes they know exactly what they want to write about, but if they don’t, they can go to the active ideas list and choose one if it hasn’t been claimed by others. These kids are great at sharing their ideas with one another and offering up suggestions.
Anything else you want to highlight about the WMS Press?
This is an entirely student-run activity. Although Stacy Martin and I coach them and provide feedback and advice, they rely upon one another for revisions and editorial assistance. If they choose to write about a controversial subject, Stacy and I will ask students to get facts from all sides to ensure that their work is as unbiased as possible.
They are an incredibly welcoming group!
Great work, students and advisors! I can’t wait to read all of the happenings on the WMS Press.