It began as a way to bring some variety to the Cities In Schools reading curriculum for fifth graders. It was intended to sharpen writing skills, provide an opportunity for the oldest kids at the summer camp to express themselves and record camp life.
It ended with 25 summer campers smiling proudly after producing three issues of the camp newspaper, called Weekly CIS, over the course of the eight-week summer camp.
Several of the fifth-grade-aged campers described the final products as “cool” and “amazing.” Two students expressed interest in turning the experience into a career, saying they are considering the media field.
“The stories about the counselors,” Tinley Vance answered when asked what she liked best about the Weekly CIS. “We found out who had been here the longest. We asked them if they liked it and if they had fun here.”
The 8x12 publication first hit the camp newsstand on June 12, just 10 days after the first day of camp. This was the first year, the Cities In Schools summer camp program established a newspaper, said Sara Kerley, executive director of Cities In Schools.
“It was a way to bring some variety to the reading program,” Kerley said. “They have two periods of reading lessons, and we wanted one to work on writing. We also wanted them to express themselves, learn interview skills and share some things about camp life.”
Cities In Schools summer camp program is a day camp for children in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade, which offers each camper a chance to improve on their literacy skills and increase their fluency in math proficiency, as well as engage in arts, crafts, music, drama, computer lessons and recreation. More than 300 children participated in this year’s camp, which ends Thursday.
Cities In Schools reading teacher Vanessa Matlock, who oversaw the newspaper, said the students reviewed copies of The Ardmoreite for learning and discussing the purpose of newspapers and the various sections.
Before diving into the first issue, the fifth graders were told about the different roles at a newspaper, such as reporters, editors, illustrators and page designers. They also invited a former Ardmoreite reporter, Jennifer Lindsey, to share about the field and answer camper questions.
“They were excited about it,” Matlock said about when the students were told of their summer reading project. “We would always spend one day brainstorming before beginning each edition. They came up with the coolest ideas. For the lifestyles, they came up with a story on how the kids now tie their shoelaces behind the tongue. I didn’t know that. I was always impressed with what they came up with.”
Weekly CIS featured a front page with a camp news story. Additionally, the newspaper featured a sports, lifestyles, review and comics section.
With each issue, the campers took turns performing different roles. There were students who drew the illustrations to go along with the stories. Writers took to producing the copy for the paper, following notes from fifth graders who went out and interviewed different sources. An editor was selected for each issue, who checked in on the progress and helped to create the final product.
Issues contain stories about an adult volunteer in the lunch room, baseball game recaps, reviews on XBox 360 games and articles on the different counselors and staff.
Each issue was placed on the bulletin board at the entrance of Cities In Schools, allowing the fifth graders to show it to their parents and friends when they arrived or left camp.
Kerley and Matlock say they are proud of the first three issues of Weekly CIS, and look forward to continuing the newspaper project next summer. They hope to see the fifth graders produce four issues and make the transition to technology, creating the newspaper through a computer publishing program. Also, they hope to add another title to the newspaper staff as the fifth graders become photographers, capturing digital images to run alongside the articles.