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Newsworthy: Longfellow Elementary students create a school newspaper

The quarterly project has a range of sections: recipes and jokes, a mystery student and teacher to identify, a sports section, a science section, and more.

Longfellow School Newspaper
From left, Jair Odihiri-Dogo, Nyuykongmo Nsameluh, Scarlette Frie and Greta Christensen, all 10 and in fourth grade, work together during a newspaper class at Longfellow 45-15 District-Wide Elementary School on Tuesday, April 26, 2022, in Rochester. The students in the class put out a quarterly student paper.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin
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ROCHESTER — Fourth-grader Mac Hanson had a vision of how he could help his schoolmates stay up to date with each other. So, he went to the principal with a plan and made it happen.

From there, the Longfellow Leopard Student News was born, a student-led newspaper for his elementary school community.

Located in southeast Rochester on Marion Road, Longfellow Elementary is a unique school in the district, running on a 45-15 day schedule rather than the traditional school calendar.

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“One day, I was just thinking ‘We should really get (a) better connection in the school,'” Hanson said. “There’s so many important things going on, and nobody really knows.”

Now, the group of students has its first edition under its belt and has started working on the next. On Tuesday, the group of students was gathered in one of the school’s classrooms, all working on various elements of the publication.

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Longfellow School Newspaper
Solomon Tarr, left, and Mac Hanson, both 10 and in fourth grade, work together during a newspaper class at Longfellow 45-15 District-Wide Elementary School on Tuesday, April 26, 2022, in Rochester. The students in the class put out a quarterly student paper.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin

Hanson described his role as that of editor-in-chief. And, he was dressed for the leadership role, with a tie tucked below a green sweater topped by a striped sport coat.

The quarterly project has a range of sections: recipes and jokes, a mystery student and teacher to identify, a sports section, a science section, and more.

“We mostly report on things we heard in our classroom or things that happened around school that might be important,” said the lead reporter, Felix Herr.

Some students were tasked with taking pictures for the publication.

One student, Chloe Creo wrote a piece about the problematic issues with puppy mills.

“It’s not good for the mom dog or the puppies,” she said. “There’s no good conditions.”

Longfellow School Newspaper
Chloe Creo, 10 and in fourth grade, works during a newspaper class at Longfellow 45-15 District-Wide Elementary School on Tuesday, April 26, 2022, in Rochester. The students in the class put out a quarterly student paper.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin

Along with Hanson, Creo was an early student collaborator on the newspaper project.

The teacher helping put the paper together, Vandi King, said she leaves the content selection up to the students. And even though students drive the content, it still provides opportunities to talk about real concepts like copyright and attribution.

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“I’m not trying to put structure into this,” she said. “We really want it to be student-driven. If they submit jokes, we’re going to include a few jokes. It’s really just what they come up with.”

Jordan Shearer covers K-12 education for the Post Bulletin. A Rochester native, he graduated from Bemidji State University in 2013 before heading out to write for a small newsroom in the boonies of western Nebraska. Bringing things full circle, he returned to Rochester in 2020 just shy of a decade after leaving. Readers can reach Jordan at 507-285-7710 or jshearer@postbulletin.com.
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