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Saturday, February 12th, 2011

Gettin' the scoop

By Shelley Grieshop

Redskin Review staff members Jamie Rinderle, Laura Fox and Zach Stammen critique. . .

ST. HENRY - They ask a zillion questions, snap endless photos and skip their lunch break as they chronicle the world around them.
The staff of the Redskin Review - a monthly newspaper in its second year of production - has amassed nearly 20 writers, editors and photographers from the St. Henry Middle School student body.
"It's been a big success," club adviser Monica Wehrley said.
The duties range from interviews to editing and help the youngsters learn teamwork and leadership, she said. Students receive no school credit for their work.
"It's all voluntary," she added.
Fifth- through eighth-grade students in the club don't have access to an elaborate printing press; they use a computer printer in Wehrley's classroom. They print only 100 copies of each edition to minimize expenses but encourage shared reading among students and staff.
The first edition of the Redskin Review debuted last year after a suggestion by founder Chase Hemmelgarn, now a freshman.
"He brought up the idea as a seventh-grader," Wehrley said. "He just took it and ran with it."
Wehrley, a computer skills teacher, said the club is nearly 100 percent "student-run."
The kids relish the freedom to be creative.
"It's a safe way to express ourselves," explained eighth-grade student Laura Fox.
The newspaper staff is divided into writers, editors, editorial writers and photographers, but their jobs often cross over, the boys and girls said.
The content of the publication is mainly dictated by the events occurring at the school, according to student Zach Stammen.
"Usually we see what's going on in the next month and find out what person is able to write about that event or if somebody's going to be there anyway," the eighth-grader said.
Writers, such as Conner Hemmelgarn, often become a part of their own story. Not only did the fifth-grader type an enthusiastic recount of this year's spelling bee, he placed fifth.
Fellow journalist Sarah Schaadt is a movie critic who has no problem taking her work home.
"I like movies. Sometimes I rent them or just watch the ones on TV," said the sixth-grade student.
Classmate Danielle Lange prefers the news beat. She likes to gather her stories from field trips or write about special events taking place around the school, she said.
Mariana Niekamp, also in sixth grade, enjoys covering the sports beat, particularly boys' basketball games.
"It's easy for me; my brother plays on the team," she said with a chuckle.
Seventh-grade student Haleigh Staugler is a lifestyle reporter who seeks out topics unfamiliar to her readers, she said. Aubrey Rammel straps on the earphones of her iPod to evaluate songs for the "music review" column.
Olivia Hemmelgarn, a fifth-grader, loves writing book reviews and fellow staffer Lily Schulze's specialty is covering school assemblies.
The Redskin Review includes comics and puzzles, as well as surveys. Readers currently are being asked to vote for their favorite movie/book series: "Twilight" or "Harry Potter."
Laura Fox is one of the editors who reviews each story for grammar errors and incomplete information. The biggest editing task keeps her finger on the delete key, she said.
"We cut out a lot," said the enthusiastic eighth-grader. "Some writers make their stories way too long."
Designing the dozen or more newspaper pages each month begins with simple pencil drawings on legal paper, the tech-savvy crew admitted. When the concept meets majority approval, the stories and photographs stored in a Wiki software program are laid out accordingly.
The final copy is printed on 8 1/2-x-14-inch sheets of paper that are folded in half in book format.
"We used to hand-fold each one until we found a machine that could do it," laughed Fox.
In a show of hands, most of the boys and girls said they hope to work as journalists or authors some day. Laura Fox's younger sister, Kate - an editorial writer bubbling with ideas - believes she's found her niche.
"I like giving my opinions on everything," she said with a grin.
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