The Making of Cub Reporters at The Glorietta Times Student Paper

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(Courtesy of Anne Lowell)
Front cover of The Glorietta Times newspaper, a 30-page publication, created by grade school students from Glorietta Elementary, during the pandemic via Zoom sessions and email with newspaper advisor, Anne Lowell.

    While much negativity has come out of the pandemic, so has the positive, which led one elementary school librarian, Anne Lowell, to figure out a way for her student writers to pivot.
    Their typical print newspaper, The Glorietta Times, morphed into an online version instead, via Zoom meetings and email.
    “It’s one of those rare gifts of the pandemic. We had to reimagine what the newspaper would look like, and it turned out far better than what we had before,” said Lowell, librarian technician and staff advisor for the newspaper at Orinda’s Glorietta Elementary School. “We were able to accommodate so many more stories – 30 pages in all – and had to create an overflow magazine to contain all the great content the kids were making.”
    The idea came from Principal Tracy Lewis.
    “Lewis was looking for opportunities to get more kids involved, to give them a greater sense of belonging while we were in full distance learning mode and brought up the idea of reviving the newspaper,” said Lowell.
    She started Zoom meetings in late February with third to fifth grade students, “But second graders, or their parents, started hearing about it and wanted to be included. I initially thought they’d be too young to contribute, but I’m happy to report that I was completely wrong about that.”
    Lowell was shocked – in a good way – with contributions from the second graders.
    “One of our second graders, Rueben Rosenberg, turned out amazing illustrations for our Women’s History Month feature and made so many of them we ultimately featured them on their own page in quiz format,” said Lowell. “Maddie Butler did interviews and poems and was there for pretty much every minute of every meeting, and we had some extremely long meetings. Second graders are fierce.”
    Lowell has been at Glorietta five years and worked as a full-time journalist and copywriter for Netflix, Gamespot (Ziff Davis), Mac Home Journal and San Francisco Downtown Magazine. She also freelanced for The New York Times, Edutopia and GreatSchools, prior to becoming a mom.
    She did the layout for the student newspaper in a program called Flipsnack.
    “It was so much fun for me to work with the Glorietta kids this way,” she said. “Definitely one of the highlights of my year.”
    Now, with up to 25 students with growing interest, Lowell is pleased the students created a 30-page online publication, with a complimentary overflow magazine.
    “One of the challenges for writers was knowing when to stop!” said Lowell. “We have a shared Google document where we post stories, and some that we never discussed in our editorial meetings just kept appearing on the Google drive.
    “The stories were so great that we added pages to accommodate them, but we ended up having to create a second publication, the Boredom Busters Magazine Supplement, because our software only allows us 30 pages. We had many more,” she added.
    The newspaper and supplemental magazine contain features about Orinda School Superintendent Carolyn Seaton, Glorietta Principal Lewis, teachers, stellar photos, hand drawn illustrations, book reviews, poetry, cartoons and more.
    Lowell suggested books for the students to review, and while they considered them, some went in a different direction.
    “Chiara Poletto wrote about a book I had never heard of that sounds great. Radium Girls, about female factory worker activists in the last century, is now high up on my reading list,” said Lowell. “I love getting book tips from students!”
    Although the cub reporters are young, one student used advanced equipment.
    “One of our third graders, Sebo Lee, went out and took incredible photos to go with some of the stories,” said Lowell. “I think he used quite an impressive camera rather than a phone for that, and the photos show it.”
    Lowell said the joys with this project were countless.
    “I saw how much initiative the students took, without a lot of coaching on my part,” she said. “They had great ideas for stories, great instincts about the best questions to ask and turned in really solid copy. They made my job doing the final edits and proofing easy. Also, seeing the kid’s creativity unleashed in the poetry and the boredom busters was special.”
    To view The Glorietta Times, visit https://bit.ly/3uBRtGj.

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