Meet the 1st-Grade Reporters Who Staff the Manatee Messenger
When my colleague Mike Fritz and I headed down to St. Petersburg, Fla., recently, we knew we were going to see young journalists at work. It’s not too hard to imagine that middle school students with a bit of training can write for a newspaper or even shoot video; plenty of kids have cellphones with cameras these days. But birthing journalists from first grade? I couldn’t imagine how it was done — until we arrived at Melrose Elementary, a journalism magnet school.
On a cool April morning the first graders from Teresa Scott’s class silently make their way into a multimedia classroom where they gather once a week. The question “What is a reporter?” was written on the white board in the front of the room. Most seemed already to have the answer.
First up on the agenda: a bit of review. Journalism teachers Carol Blair and Cynthia Vickers began by reinforcing an earlier lesson. In unison, as if they were reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, the students and teachers said: "A good journalist uses their brain, eyes, ears, nose and mouth to ask the five W’s: who, what, when, where and why."
FJP: The video is simultaneously adorable and an eerie sort of indoctrination but we’ll keep this light. Here are some delightful highlights from our archival exploration of the Manatee Messenger.
- Akerah Robinson and Adrianna Lewis (Fifth-Grade) report on student flexibility:
Omari Booker, a fifth- grader, is an unusually talented person. He can crack his wrist, wiggle his ears and rotate his eyeballs up inside his head, so all you can see is the white part. When asked about his talents, he said, “I don’t know how I do it. I guess I was just born this way.”
- Adriana Landes (Third-Grade) writes this bold letter to the editor:
I think we should have a chocolate fountain in the cafeteria so we can dip food in it and use it for a decoration. It would look pretty. The other thing we should change is to build a bigger and different playground. We need more room to play. When we play games now, we have to stay inside the edge of the playground where there is no equipment and there isn’t enough room to run.
- And this: First-graders hold a Press Conference with Coach Wong.
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